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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac
2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

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Brush Up on the Benefits of Brushing

You probably can’t imagine a time when you didn’t now how to brush your teeth. However, like every task that’s repeated thousands of times, you may have become somewhat lax in your brushing habits. Brushing up on the brushing basics may help you get more out of your daily oral hygiene regimen.

What’s the Benefit of Properly Brushing Your Teeth?

After you eat or drink, particularly foods and beverages that are high in sugars and carbohydrates, a sticky film called plaque adheres to your teeth. Plaque contains lots of bacteria, and if not removed, they proliferate and settle in the cracks between your teeth and your gums. Brushing and flossing will remove the plaque and bacteria, which will deter the formation of decay and cavities. Good oral hygiene is one of the best methods for ensuring that your natural teeth last a lifetime.

Is Plaque Really Bad for Your Teeth?

Plaque is very bad, not only for your teeth, but for your overall health. It has been linked to serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and diabetes. When plaque isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, it turns into calculus, which is a very hard substance that can only be removed by a dentist. Plaque contributes to a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that, when not removed, can irritate and inflame your gums. This is the beginning of gingivitis.

If gingivitis is treated early, it’s completely curable. However, if it’s not treated, then it becomes periodontal disease. When periodontal disease isn’t treated, it can destroy the ligaments that secure your teeth, and your teeth will fall out. It will also destroy your jawbone, which will cause facial distortion. At this point, the only solution is expensive and painful reconstructive dentistry. Removing plaque daily is easier, less painful, and far less expensive. If you have any questions, your dentist can provide you with the answers.

How Will Brushing Properly Encourage Healthy Teeth?

When you brush properly, you’ll contribute to a healthy mouth as well as a healthy body. The best source of information is your dentist. You can also follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association for proper oral hygiene habits, which are:


  • Make sure that your toothbrush is the proper size for you to brush all of your teeth. It may seem obvious that you should brush all of them, but things happen. You may tend to avoid a sensitive tooth or lack the dexterity to reach your back teeth, or your toothbrush might be the wrong size. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you brush all of your teeth. If you have one or more teeth that are sensitive and don’t get better, then schedule an appointment with your dentist.
  • You should brush your teeth just before retiring at night and not eat or drink anything except clear water after you brush. Otherwise, you can have plaque in your mouth and need to brush again. When acids and bacteria remain on your teeth overnight, they deteriorate your tooth enamel and hasten the onset of decay and cavities. You should brush when you arise in the morning before you eat or drink anything, and then again at night just before bedtime. At a minimum, you should brush and floss twice daily and use an antibacterial mouthwash before bedtime. An antibacterial mouthwash can also be beneficial when it’s not feasible to brush and floss.
  • Tongue: When you brush your teeth at night, you should also brush your tongue. The taste buds on your tongue are very rough, and they’re good at trapping bacteria, so brushing your tongue will eliminate more bacteria and provide you with fresher breath.

Dental Visits

  • Cleanings and checkups: No matter the quality of your oral hygiene, you should still have annual cleanings and checkups at a minimum, semi-annual appointments are better. Your hygienist can provide a more thorough cleaning than you’re able to, and your dentist can detect potential problem areas before they become major issues.


  • Equipment: Your toothbrush should be thoroughly cleaned before you store it. Make sure that you store it upright to air dry – don’t use a closed container – and it should be separate from other toothbrushes. Using a closed container causes bacteria and mold to grow, so be sure your toothbrush can air dry.
  • Equipment replacement: You need a new toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles are worn. If you’ve been sick, then replace your toothbrush immediately when you’re well.
  • Toothbrush choice: Your toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth. If it’s too big or too small, it won’t work as well as one that’s correctly sized. Many dentists now recommend their patients use battery-operated toothbrushes because they’re more efficient and effective than manual toothbrushes. The three-month replacement caveat still applies, though. If you have questions about the best type of toothbrush for your needs, ask your Woodbridge dentist.
  • Toothpaste: With the array of toothpaste types available, you’re sure to find one that suits your preference; just make sure that it carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.

Flossing and Rinsing

  • Flossing: Flossing is a vital adjunct to brushing if you want to have the healthiest mouth possible. Ideally, brushing and flossing after each meal is the best scenario. However, that’s not always possible, so if you can’t brush and floss, use an antibacterial mouthwash for an emergency measure.
  • Rinsing: Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash will complete the effectiveness of your dental hygiene regimen. Even after you brush and floss and brush your tongue, you can have minute amounts of bacterial residue lurking in your gums. Using an antibacterial mouthwash will eliminate the residual bacteria and provide you with the cleanest and freshest mouth possible.

Technique and Timing

  • Technique: For optimal effectiveness when brushing your teeth, imagine that your mouth is divided into four sections and brush each section for at least 30 seconds. Be sure to brush all exposed surfaces and don’t press too hard, or you’ll damage your tooth enamel.
  • Motion: Whether you prefer to brush in a circular motion or a back-and-forth motion, it’s effective as long as you use gentle pressure and brush all exposed surfaces.
  • Timing: The order of your brushing and flossing is immaterial. Some people prefer to brush first and then floss. Others prefer to floss first and then brush. Both ways are equally effective as long as you brush and floss. Just make sure to brush for two minutes at a time..

Can I Restore Healthy Teeth and Gums By Brushing Properly?

The body excels at self-healing, so if you have a sensitive tooth but exercise good oral hygiene, then you can restore your good oral health. If you don’t have good oral health, then contact your dentist to restore your dental health. Then, follow the above to ensure that your mouth stays as healthy as possible.

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2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

(703) 595-2887