Whether you have braces, Invisalign or are currently braces-free, there’s a good chance you may not be brushing your teeth correctly. But don’t feel bad! Did you know that nearly 30% of Americans aren’t doing enough brushing and most people make mistakes when it comes to their daily oral care routine?
Brushing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria that can cause tooth decay. The right type of brushing can also help with stains that are caused by certain foods and beverages. If you want to enjoy a great smile and healthy teeth, it’s important to understand how to properly take care of your pearly whites.
Dr. Labbe and his team of expert orthodontists have six helpful tips on how to brush to avoid brushing improperly.
- You Never Replace Your Toothbrush – Over time, the bristles will lose their effectiveness to remove plaque and stains from your teeth. Dr. Labbe’s team recommends that you replace your toothbrush at least every six months. (BUT! If you notice that the bristles aren’t in tiptop shape replace it sooner, don’t delay!)
- You Brush Too Hard – Applying an excessive amount of pressure when you brush can cause more harm than good. (Uh oh!) You can scratch the enamel on the teeth and damage the gum tissue. If you notice your gums are sore or bleeding after brushing, you are probably using too much force. Make sure to be gentle and let our team know if the discomfort doesn’t decrease after you implement this tip!
- You Do Not Brush Long Enough – Most people don’t spend enough time when it comes to brushing their teeth. It’s not a race! You should brush each quadrant (upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right) and the tops of the teeth for about thirty seconds each. And don’t forget about your tongue and gums. (Here’s a fun challenge: Recite the alphabet in your head, while brushing, and once you get to Z (no cheating) you’re in the clear!)
- You Brush in the Same Pattern – If you always start brushing your teeth in the same spot, chances are those teeth are getting the most love! All teeth are created equal so make sure you vary your pattern of brushing to ensure all of your teeth are getting the attention they need.
- You Are Not Brushing Enough – Do you only brush when you wake up? Brushing only once a day in the morning can be damaging to your oral health. Remember to brush twice a day to get rid of food particles, plaque, or bacteria before you go to bed and when you’re getting ready for your day.
- You Are Using the Wrong Motions – Even though it may be what you’re used to, brushing back and forth is not as effective as you might think! This motion will only allow you to cover the surface of your teeth, but what about in-between? It’s better to brush in small circular movements no bigger than the size of each tooth. TIP: If you find it too difficult to make circular patterns with a regular toothbrush, try an electric one with a round rotating dental head.
For most people, brushing twice a day is just right! However, if you have braces or use Invisalign, your orthodontist may recommend you brush more often. And every time you do – make sure to refer to the tips and tricks above.
If you are concerned about how your teeth look, remember Labbe Family Orthodontics is here to help. We offer several different orthodontic solutions to help you achieve a beautiful smile! Call our office at (443) 603-3448 today to schedule a complimentary consultation appointment.
It’s a fact of life: Teeth change color. If you’re like countless people all over the world, you may have noticed your pearly whites taking on a yellow tint over the years or, perhaps, you’ve looked in the mirror and seen the tell-tale brown dots or white streaks—but why does it happen and is there anything orthodontic care can do about it?
The most common cause of discoloration is staining of the enamel, and the most common cause of staining is food and drink. The good news is that you can avoid these extrinsic, or surface, stains by watching what you put in your mouth. The bad news is that it’s hard to give up your favorite snacks and refreshments.
The most notorious culprits are:
- Tea: Tea is one of the worst offenders, possibly even worse than coffee. In addition to containing a lot of pigment-producing substances called chromogens, it’s also full of tannins, which help those chromogens attach to your tooth enamel.
- Coffee: You probably know coffee stains teeth, but did you know that adding cream and milk won’t do a thing to stop it? While it may turn your coffee white, it certainly won’t do the same for your teeth.
- Wine: Add a wealth of tannins to the naturally dark pigment of red wine, and it’s no wonder your teeth come away looking worse for the wear.
- Cola: Like all the other items on this list, cola is high in chromogens, which add a nice dark pigment to both the drink and your teeth.
- Fruits: Yes, even grapes and blueberries and pomegranates can stain your teeth. Acidic fruits also have a tendency to wear away tooth enamel, which doesn’t help the staining problem.
- Tobacco : Using tobacco in any form (smoked or chewed) is a sure way to lose the luster of your smile.
If you can’t avoid foods and beverages that stain your teeth, you’ll have to go the extra mile and practice superior oral hygiene. That means brushing often (at least twice a day or, better yet, after eating and drinking), using mouthwash, and flossing once a day.
Whether or not you indulge in three cups of tea or grape juice per day, it’s a good idea to take care of your mouth. That’s because poor oral hygiene creates plaque and bacteria buildup, which is also a leading cause of tooth discoloration.
Some discoloration goes beneath the surface, affecting the enamel itself or even the underlying dentin.
- Medications: Certain antibiotics (namely tetracycline and doxycycline) can stain children’s teeth if they’re still developing. A number of commonly used medications, including some prescription-strength mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine, can cause discoloration in adults who use them. Even overexposure to fluoride can permanently affect the color of teeth.
- Radiation and Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs and radiation directed at the head can affect the teeth.
- Disease: High fevers in childhood can cause discoloration, as can jaundice or overall poor health.
- Age: As we age, the enamel on our teeth wears out and becomes thinner. That allows the natural yellow of your dentin to show through more clearly.
- Genetics: Unfortunately, some people are simply born with thinner enamel and, therefore, have more yellow-looking teeth.
Does Orthodontic Care Cause Tooth Discoloration?
There’s a widely-held but misguided belief that traditional braces cause tooth discoloration. The materials used in orthodontics (even traditional metal or ceramic braces) do not stain teeth. The only problem occurs when people fail to clean properly in those hard-to-reach places. As long as you listen to your local orthodontist and remain diligent about maintaining proper hygiene, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we work with each individual to improve their overall oral care while they’re undergoing treatment. That means educating patients about good hygiene practices and nipping problems in the bud before they have time to cause permanent problems like tooth discoloration. As a top orthodontist in Maryland, we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your smile is picture perfect. Take advantage of our online resources to learn more tips and tricks for taking care of your teeth.