In General: Brush back and forth with gentle strokes. Don't brush too hard. You're not scrubbing floors. The material that you are trying to remove consists of food debris and bacteria, and has the consistency of wet tissue paper. It's really soft and comes off very easily. Be gentle, yet thorough. Give yourself the best of both.
Start at a 45 degree angle, pointing upward towards the gumline. Brush gently back and forth in short strokes around the scalloped edges of the teeth. This is where all the "gunk" settles in.
Brushing Fun Fact # 2
Brushing too hard is a real problem because you may end up pushing the gums away from the teeth, which exposes the root surface. Since the root surface is much softer and porous than the enamel, it tends to abrade easier, resulting in wear and notching of the root. This results in cold, air, and/or and sweet sensitivity.
Brushing Fun Fact # 5
Use the softest brush you can find: extra or ultra-soft. You'll save yourself a lot of grief. The bristles should gently bend around the curved surfaces of your teeth and gums in order to get into the crevices without too much pressure on the raised, curved surface.
It's kind of like polishing a car fender or piece of fine furniture, where you don't want to wear through the outer surface.
Brushing Fun Fact # 3
Most people brush hard in order to make their teeth whiter. Ironically, the inner layers of the tooth are naturally more yellow than the enamel, so excessive brushing, which thins the enamel, will actually make the tooth appear more yellow as the inner dentin layer shows through!
Brushing Fun Fact # 4
Toothpaste makes your breath fresh, has a mild abrasive to polish the stains off of your teeth, and many contain fluoride to help prevent cavities, but it is the physical brushing action of the bristles that do the job, so it's okay to can take a "toothpaste holiday" once in a while.
Brushing Fun Fact # 6
Ultra-soft brushes are impossible to find in the stores. It's because there's no demand for them since people think that they need to scrub their teeth. We have to special order them, and give them away to our patients at every dental check up.
And... if you'd like to try one, just stop in and we'll give you one too!
It's as soft as a baby's hairbrush!
( It's our little gift to you, for reading this far down on the page! ).
Brush the chewing surface grooves on your back teeth thoroughly. Go in all directions. This is probably the one place you should scrub, because the enamel here is really thick and won't wear out from brushing, and these grooves really get packed with ground up food. It's a prime place for cavities to start, especially for kids. This is where sealants come in to stop cavities.
Brushing Fun Fact # 1
If you open your mouth wide to brush the outer surfaces of your upper back teeth, the cheek muscles will tighten, making it almost impossible to get the brush back there. If you close your mouth somewhat, the muscles will loosen and there will be plenty of room to get the brush in!
It's important to get the inner surfaces of your back teeth clean. Many people miss this area on the lower teeth because you have to push your tongue out of the way to get there. Persevere! It's worth it!
Brush the inner surfaces of your upper and lower front teeth. On the lower, this is where a lot of hard build-up, known as calculus, or tarter, accumulates. You can minimize the build up by brushing and using a tarter-control toothpaste, but if you're brushing hard enough to stop it from building up, you're probably doing damage to the softer tissues in your mouth. This is where a professional cleaning comes in. Leave that hard buildup to us!
Take the wet toothbrush and brush the top surface of your tongue. The rough surface, filled with papillae, is a perfect hiding place for bacteria, which will multiply, quickly giving you bad breath (again), and re-populate your teeth and gums with bacteria. You can use fancy, dedicated tongue scraper if you like, but it's not necessary.
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Plainview, NY 11803