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[Hygiene] Brushing your Teeth (and Bad Breath)

category: Lifehacks | course: Personal Hygiene | difficulty:

Another very important part of your hygiene are your teeth. They get dirty all the time, and have loads of bacteria surrounding them. Keeping a clean mouth not only makes your teeth whiter, cleaner and last longer, but also reduces the amount of bad breath.

Not so long ago, people thought that brushing your teeth once a day was more than enough. The quality of their teeth shows that they were wrong. Brushing your teeth once a day is the absolute minimum you should do.

These days there are four main tools to keep a clean mouth: regular toothbrush, electric toothbrush, dental flossing and toothpicks.

Regular vs Electric

The electric toothbrush has become more and more popular, and for a good reason. All you have to do is turn it on (sometimes with the correct settings), move it along both rows of teeth, and you are sure of a clean mouth. There’s no chance of applying too much or too little pressure, it will reach all the hard-to-reach spots, and the very fancy ones even have timers to help you.

Why doesn’t everybody use it then? Because a decent one that will last for quite some time is rather expensive, and some people just want to stay in control. If you do all the work yourself, you know for sure what has been done and to what extent. Regular toothbrushes are also easier to carry with you if you travel or stay over at someone’s place, and are less heavy (for some people it really makes a difference).

I will therefore not try to push you to one side or another, just use this information to choose which one to use for yourself.

How often should I brush my teeth?

Most people do it twice a day. After they’ve had breakfast and are about to go to work, and after they’ve had their dinner (or last snacks) before they go to bed. This is good, and you are assured of healthy teeth if you can keep up this habit. It’s not disastrous if you sometimes drop this to once a day due to problems or certain circumstances, but never do it less than that!

How to Brush your Teeth

The whole point of brushing your teeth is first of all to get rid of any food leftovers on your teeth, and second of all to put fluoride on the teeth to make them strong and provide a layer of protection.

Therefore, before you brush, first clean your teeth by drinking some water (and moving that around in your mouth), or brushing with only water on your toothbrush.

Then, for about 2 minutes, subtly move around your brush on every area of your mouth in a slow circular motion. Pay special attention to the gums, as cleaning those is very important, but rubbing too hard will hurt them and cause serious problems.

Also scrub your tongue, as it also contains some food leftovers, and not including it with your routine kind of defeats the whole purpose.

Floss vs Toothpick

They are becoming more and more popular, as they really do work and are necessary to use regularly. They booth reach for the space between your teeth, and rid that of any harmful bacteria. They literally put something through that space (floss wire or the toothpick itself), which can’t be achieved by a brush.

It is therefore recommended to use one of them once a day, but even using it once every week will make a difference. Whichever you use doesn’t matter: some dentists promote toothpicks, some promote dental floss. I will provide you with a small how-to on both.

How to Floss

Most floss wires come in a little plastic box. Before you start flossing, take out a piece of floss wire about the length of your arm. Then take one or two inches of the wire between your hands.

Place one end in your mouth, and the other just in front of it. Slowly move the floss wire (in a sawing motion) through the areas between your teeth. Be careful though to not try and floss some piece of tooth.

Because a floss wire is in between two teeth, there are two affected by its presence. It is recommended to sort of hug one tooth in a C-shape while going up, and then do the same with ther other tooth when moving down again.

When you’re done with one space, get a new small piece of clean floss by moving the wire between your hands, and quickly move on.

How to use a Toothpick

The correct way to use them is to stick them between your teeth as far as you can. Trust me, it doesn’t hurt. If it does hurt a lot, you are going too far or hitting a painful spot and should stop.

If your toothpick has one straight and one curved side (which most have), then the curved side should be pointing towards the center of your mouth.

If things start to bleed a little inside your mouth the first few times, don’t worry, it’s normal and should happen.

Best Teeth Brushing Practices

Don’t brush too hard or fast, you do not need to put enormous amounts of pressure on your toothbrush or move back and forth like a madman. Doing this will only hurt your teeth and gums, and not have the desired effect. It’s important that you brush every part of your mouth well, not as quick as you can.

Don’t use too much toothpaste. It isn’t healthy (if you swallow any of it), and you don’t need very much either (putting a bubble the size of a pea on your brush should do just fine).

It’s best to brush the front of your teeth in a small circular motion, the top/bottom (chewing sides, the ones pointing towards each other) in a linear motion and the back with the toothbrush going up and down vertically.

If you have the chance, drink or eat foods with a lot of calcium in it or chew gum (these will strengthen your teeth and keep the mouth moist). Also, try drinking beverages that are bad for your tooth (‘sugarbombs’) with a straw. Or avoid them altogether.

Replace your toothbrush every 3 months, though if you brush subtly you might be able to keep one longer without the hairs falling out.

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