National Brush Day is technically an American awareness day - but much like Halloween, it’s gained traction across the pond since its debut last year. In an effort to make sure as many people as possible are able to enjoy a healthy smile, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation is reinforcing the importance of children’s oral health and promoting good tooth-brushing habits.
This year, the DTA Foundation is going to be promoting the day by encouraging people to share their best smiles, using the hashtag #SmileShareforNBD - with the goal to raise awareness when it comes to good oral health. But if you’re not in the mood to mug for the camera, there is one other way you can celebrate the day and do something to commemorate all those sweets you ate the day before. You can try brushing your teeth the way dentists say we should:
How to brush your teeth correctly, according to a dentist
Are you brushing your teeth on autopilot? That’s alright - most of us are. Apart from the generally accepted wisdom that you should brush for around two minutes (you’re doing that, right?), there are a few more guidelines that you should be following whenever you brush your teeth - so if you aren’t, start now - for the sake of your gums and your pearly whites.
Brush twice a day
The whole point of brushing your teeth is to remove the dental plaque that builds up on your teeth. It’s that grey-white fur that sticks to your tooth and gum surfaces - and if you leave it undisturbed for a day, the bacteria in it begins to multiply, becoming mature and releasing acids and smelly by-products. Plaque acids are one of the things that cause cavities to form in our teeth, sizzling through the enamel and dentine until your tooth softens and caves in. Scary.
Every time you brush, you’re getting rid of that plaque bacteria, stopping it from multiplying and maturing. It’s especially important to brush before bed, because you produce less saliva while you’re sleeping, which means anything stuck between your teeth won’t be washed out, creating a nice little petri dish for plaque growth.
So brushing for two minutes in the morning and at night are a great way to clear out all the gunk and interrupt your plaque to stop it from getting stuck into the surface of your teeth. Make sure you don’t forget the teeth at the back of your mouth.
It can be helpful to count the six segments of your mouth as you go, to make sure you don’t miss any. Upper Inside, Upper Outside, and Upper Chewing Surface. Then Lower Inside, Lower Outside, and Lower Chewing Surface. Hit all those areas, and you should be good.
So that’s the acid dealt with - but what about the smell? Bad breath is tied to mature plaque too - especially when it’s caused by gum disease. If you brush poorly for two to three weeks, mature plaque can cause your gums to swell up and redden, and they’ll bleed easily. This is because your gum’s blood vessels are doing their best to destroy the plaque by leaking immune fighting cells - but after a few weeks of undisturbed architecture, the mature plaque is capable of fighting back. Everything your body throws at it will bounce off the plaque and instead start to break down the bone that’s holding your teeth in your head.
This process of all out war between your body and the plaque you haven’t been brushing away is known as advanced gum disease - it’s slow, and painless, but if untreated, you might find your teeth loosening and even falling out. Now that’s scary.
It’s important to have a regular dental check-up, and to brush and floss frequently to stop something really scary happening in your mouth. Avoid the horror by reaching for your toothbrush twice a day, and brushing thoroughly.