As the provider of the type of family dental care Beaverton has come to rely on for a great looking smile, Drs. Williams and Truszkowski want their patients to have the tools needed to protect the long-term health of their teeth and gums.
After all, our teeth do far more for us than simply help us to eat, drink, and smile. Our teeth act like a barometer that signals the current state of our underlying health. When patients develop oral health issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, they have a far greater risk for developing a range of chronic health issues that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer.
Despite the important role of our teeth play in helping to signal the state of our overall health and in eating, tooth decay and gum disease rates continue to rise. In the U.S., over 47 percent of adults over the age of 30 deal with either mild, moderate, or severe gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number jumps to over 70 of seniors 65 and older.
Another study published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that up to 91 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 20 to 64 had some degree of tooth decay in their teeth. That number increases to 96 percent for adults 65 and older.
So, why do so many Americans deal with poor oral health despite the overall importance of strong teeth and gums? It could have to do with the way we brush.
Despite brushing and flossing for most of our lifetimes, most people have developed poor brushing habits that can actually harm their oral health. Even if you think you’ve master the art of brushing, odds seems likely there are a few things you can do to improve this highly important hygiene habit.
Let’s take a look at a few of the mistakes patients makes when brushing their teeth.
Brushing with Too Much Force
Brushing works to remove oral bacteria and food particles from the surface of our teeth and along the gum line. When bacteria, commonly referred to as plaque, remains on our teeth, it produces harmful substances that slowly erode away tooth enamel. Given time, this erosion leads to the development of cavities and gum disease that can destroy the health of our smiles.
Just because we need to scrub our teeth clean doesn’t mean we need to throw in a little extra elbow grease to get the job done. Cleaning our teeth isn’t like scrubbing the kitchen counter or bathtub. By brushing with too much force, we can actually harm the health of our teeth.
The correct way of brushing includes holding the brush at a 45-degree angle between the gum line and the tooth, and then moving the brush back and forth in a short, concise motion that covers the surface of each tooth.
If you want an easy solution to overbrushing, trying using an electric toothbrush. They are designed to use the right amount of pressure to remove plaque while keeping enamel safe.
Not Brushing Enough
When you receive the type of family dental care Beaverton patients require to enjoy a great-looking smile, your visit usually involves a cleaning where our hygienists remove tartar deposits from the surface of your teeth. Tartar develops when plaque is allowed to harden on our teeth. This usually occurs because patients fail to brush frequently enough.
While brushing at night before bed may seem adequate, practicing the habit once a day doesn’t provide your teeth with the protection they require.
When we sleep, the amount of saliva our mouths produce decreases significantly. Saliva acts as our body’s natural defense mechanism against plaque buildup. Plaque develops naturally in the mouth. So even after brushing away all of the plaque at night before bed, more will develop over the course of the night.
In the morning, after 6 to 8 hours of sleep, plaque has had the opportunity to accumulate without the interference of significant saliva flow. This means there is more plaque in your mouth in the morning than at any other time of the day. If you wait a full 14 to 16 hours later before brushing after waking, you expose the enamel of your teeth to a significant amount of plaque, thereby increasing your risk for cavities.
Brush in the morning and again before bed. That’s the best way to keep your smile looking its best.
Not Brushing for Long Enough
By far the most common problem when it comes to patients brushing at home, most people simply fail to brush for long enough.
If you had to guess what the American Dental Association would recommend for the length of time you need to spend brushing, what would come up with? Thirty seconds? A minute? The ADA actually recommends spending two minutes brushing each time you brush. Since you need to brush twice a day, you should be spending at least four minutes a day brushing.
No problem? Great. Except that studies have found that the majority of adults spend 30 seconds brushing, not two minutes, for a total of one minute a day.
That’s just a quarter of the amount of time recommended for cleaning our teeth. Imagine if you only spent a minute shaving, applying makeup, or showering. What kind of results would you expect? Probably a little uneven and somewhat smelly, right? Same thing happens when we spend so little time brushing. We miss significant areas of the mouth were plaque is then free to grow.
Don’t ruin your smile by not brushing enough. Make an effort to time yourself the next time you brush and see just how big a difference two minutes can make.