With schools letting out, summer near, and vacation season in swing, it’s easy to let slip some things that are otherwise routine, such as our dental care.

A 2014 survey found that about 30 percent of Americans were not brushing their teeth enough, and that 23 percent of Americans had gone two or more days without brushing in the previous year. And even though most of us have been brushing at least intermittently for years, many of us aren’t getting the most out of this brief activity that is so critical to our oral health and general health.

So to freshen up, following are five teeth brushing tips.

woman looking in the mirror while brushing her teeth

1. The No. 2, Part 1

Brush at least two times every day, preferably following meals in the morning and before going to bed. If you can squeeze in a third brushing after lunch or an afternoon snack, even better.

Contrary to what may seem like common sense, it’s best to wait 30 minutes or more after eating before you brush, particularly if you’ve had something sugary or acidic. Certain foods and drinks soften the enamel, and the Mayo Clinic notes on its brushing FAQ page that brushing immediately after eating can further wear the enamel prematurely.

2. The No. 2, Part 2

Two minutes per brushing session is all you need to clean your teeth and gums, and refresh your breath. That’s about how long it will take to read this post.

But, according to the survey referenced above, most of us aren’t brushing long enough. That national study found that most Americans are falling at least eight seconds shy of the two-minute mark. Brushing longer than two minutes can also encourage erosion and potentially receding gums.

3. A Soft Brush and a Soft Touch

It’s important to brush thoroughly, but don’t scrub your teeth like you’re scouring a skillet. Brushing too hard, or using a toothbrush with hard bristles, can damage the enamel and gum tissue.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a gentle touch. Employ a circular movement and short, light strokes as you sweep the bristles over and around your teeth. Don’t forget to brush along the gumline.

4. The Right Angle

As the American Dental Association notes on its Brushing Your Teeth page, it’s important to make sure the toothbrush bristles are angled at about 45 degrees.

This ensures that hard-to-reach areas that may otherwise be neglected receive a thorough cleaning. It also allows your brush to reach into the gumline, where food particles can accumulate and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

5. Don’t Play Favorites

Because our front teeth are outwardly visible, many people concentrate their efforts there and neglect the back teeth and the gums, as well as any dental work such as fillings or crowns.

Make sure to brush the back teeth and the inner surfaces of the teeth, which are frequently ignored in favor of the front teeth and chewing surfaces. Don’t forget to brush around any dental restorations; it doesn’t hurt to brush your tongue as well.

Comprehensive Dental Care

Of course, brushing is only one part of a good oral health routine. Flossing is recommended at least once daily, and regular checkups with your dentist are vital to keeping a healthy smile and addressing any issues before they affect your oral health and general well-being.

Rockland County dentist Dr. Mark Dunayer and the team at B & D Dental Excellence are dedicated to helping patients maintain and restore beautiful, healthy smiles. Please call (845) 627-7645 to schedule your appointment at our West Nyack, NY, office.