7 brushing habits to break in 2017

Resolving to maintain better oral health in the new year? The ADA has published tips on breaking bad brushing habits in 2017.

Here is a summary of some of the advice:

  • How old is your toothbrush? It should be replaced every 3 to 4 months, according to the ADA consumer website, MouthHealthy.org. When a brush's bristles appear to be frayed and broken — that's a good sign it's time to replace it, preferably with a toothbrush that has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Most people brush their teeth for 45 seconds, but the optimal time for brushing is a full two minutes a day, twice per day, according to MouthHealthy.org.
  • Ease up! According to MouthHealthy.org, some people brush their teeth harder than they need to for an effective cleaning. "Too much pressure may wear down the hard outer shell on your teeth and damage your gums," according to the website.
  • Brushing after a meal is a good idea, but wait at least 30 minutes, especially if you enjoyed something acidic, such as lemons or soda. MouthHealthy.org recommends chewing sugarless gum or drinking water while waiting to brush.
  • Don't keep your toothbrush in a closed container. Store toothbrushes upright and let them dry in the open air so that germs can't grow so easily.
  • Just like brushing too hard, using a toothbrush with hard bristles can wear down the outer shell of teeth. Choose a brush with soft bristles.

For more information and tips for keeping teeth clean effectively, and other oral health topics such as oral health care for children and babies, nutrition information and a symptom checker that can help patients identify possible conditions and treatments, visit MouthHealthy.org.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.

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