How to brush your teeth better

How to brush your teeth better

Do you still brush your teeth the way you were taught in childhood?

You brush your teeth every day, but when is the last time you updated technique?

Do you know what kind of brushing your teeth and gums need? Certain medications, poor nutrition, too much stress or tension in the jaw, can all make teeth enamel or gum lines soft and vulnerable to being damaged by the wrong techniques.

Learn how to brush your teeth better, to help to maintain your teeth and gums in perfect health for the rest of your life.

Softer is better

Always choose the softest bristles for your toothbrush to avoid scratching or gouging the surface of your teeth. Firm and even medium bristles wear down soft enamel, making it more vulnerable to decay. A soft brush allows you to gently polish the surface of your teeth, leaving them so glassy that plaque can’t stick to them.

Rubbing your gums with hard bristles can break the delicate surface membranes, weakening their grip on your teeth and allowing bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and potentially lead to inflammation in your gut, heart or lungs.

Hard bristles on an electric toothbrush can be even more damaging  than those on a regular manual brush. Speedy electric toothbrushes increase the impact of your toothbrushing technique, so it’s even more important to use soft bristled head and hold lightly against your teeth than with a manual toothbrush.

You always can soften your toothbrush even more by running the bristles under hot water before you start brushing.

 

Register now to watch the Holistic Tooth Fairy's FREE online workshop recording on how to maintain oral health at home. Learn how to:

  • Prevent dental emergencies with teeth & gum nourishing foods, herbs and supplements
  • Protect your gums by fine tuning your oral hygiene habits 
  • Relieve jaw tension to avoid breaking enamel or fillings
  • Do your own oral health self assessments to identify any issues
  • Evaluate whether an issue needs a dentist urgently or can wait
  • Manage issues with holistic home remedies until normal dental services resume

Polish don’t scrub

Instead of scrubbing your teeth like you are cleaning a kitchen floor, imagine you are gently polishing antique silver plate. Ideally, you can brush so lightly that even after six months your toothbrush bristles will still look brand new!

Try to hold your toothbrush with the tips of your fingers very close to the toothbrush head (like a fancy lady sipping from her bone china teacup). With your fine-motor skills in play it is much easier to brush gently than if you are gripping the end of the brush in your fist. If it is difficult for you to hold a manual brush this way, try an electric toothbrush which you can grip while applying the lightest touch possible to your teeth.

When you are brushing your teeth, be sure to avoid brushing into the gum line. Brushing carelessly into your gums contributes to receding gums, gum pockets or abrasions that can lead to gum disease.  If you have receding or bleeding gums you really need to use soft, round-tipped bristles and brush very, very gently.

You can brush your gums, but this should be done separately with a dry, soft-bristled manual toothbrush. You can buy gum brushes or use a baby toothbrush which is small and soft. Always brush gums from the jaw towards the teeth, so with a downward motion on the top gums and upward on the bottom gums.

Brush your teeth early

Plaque begins to rebuild within 6 hours of brushing, so it is important to brush your teeth both morning and night. However, you should always wait for an hour after you eat before brushing, because your enamel is at its softest and most vulnerable from acids and sugars.

The best time to brush in the morning is as soon as you get up, to give your mouth a fresh start for the day. Then, when you start to eat and drink there is less harmful bacteria interacting with the breakfast food in your mouth.

In the evening, wait an hour or so after you’ve finished eating, but don’t wait until you are too tired to brush carefully. Brushing an hour or two before you are ready for bed allows you to brush with your full attention.

Slow down, you brush too fast

The most important toothbrushing tip I tell my holistic teeth health clients is to brush  your teeth slowly. You should spend at least two or three minutes brushing in total, brushing each tooth surface individually, and stroking away from the gum. If you are used to rushing through brushing, then it may feel very unnatural and boring to slow down.

One way to help yourself stay on task is to distract yourself. Watch TV, listen to music, the radio, a talking book or a podcast as you brush.

Another, even more effective, technique is to treat toothbrushing as a twice daily mindfulness practice. As you brush you can look in the mirror and think positive affirmations. Your teeth cleaning time is the best time to think loving thoughts towards your teeth and gums, and forgive yourself any imperfections.

Your teeth have been with you for a long time, you can keep them forever by adapting your routine to show them the love and care they need as they grow older with you.

Register now to watch the Holistic Tooth Fairy's FREE online workshop recording on how to maintain oral health at home. Learn how to:

  • Prevent dental emergencies with teeth & gum nourishing foods, herbs and supplements
  • Protect your gums by fine tuning your oral hygiene habits 
  • Relieve jaw tension to avoid breaking enamel or fillings
  • Do your own oral health self assessments to identify any issues
  • Evaluate whether an issue needs a dentist urgently or can wait
  • Manage issues with holistic home remedies until normal dental services resume

Has a dentist told you that your cavities or receding gums are your fault because you are drinking too much Coke, you don’t floss enough or you need to stop breastfeeding your baby? And you know that isn’t true!

I’m a natural oral health coach and I'm not going to blame you or shame you.
The underlying causes of your oral health issues are not your fault!

Nature or nurture, ancestry or environment, free will or systemic oppression, unconscious emotions or the degraded food system are the factors that make your teeth and gums vulnerable to disease.

Even though your tooth decay and gum disease is not your fault, it is within your power to change.

I can help you to turn your oral health around with natural strategies, healthy habits and intuitive insights. 

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10 common oral hygiene mistakes

10 common oral hygiene mistakes

Are you making any of these ten common mistakes with your daily oral hygiene routine?

1. Brushing too vigorously

Brushing your teeth too hard can wear away at the enamel, especially if you have weak teeth. Hard brushing can also contribute to gum recession and gum disease.

Instead of scrubbing your teeth like you are cleaning a kitchen floor, imagine you are gently polishing antique silver plate. 

Try to hold your toothbrush with the tips of your fingers very close to the toothbrush head (like a fancy lady sipping from her bone china teacup). With your fine-motor skills in play it is much easier to brush gently than if you are gripping the end of the brush in your fist.

Ideally, you can brush so lightly that even after 6 months your toothbrush bristles still look brand new!

Check out this post for better brushing techniques.

 

2. Using fluoride toothpaste

Contrary to what lobbyists and marketers would have us believe, fluoride does not prevent tooth decay and may damage gums. The (limited and outdated) research used to support their claims was done using naturally occurring fluoride rather than the toxic byproduct of aluminium manufacturing which is in our water and toothpaste. There is substantial evidence that fluoride is a neurotoxin which accumulates in the body disrupting collagen production and reducing enzyme activity.

Other ingredients to avoid in toothpaste include proplylen glycol, triclosan, FD&C colour pigments, trisodium phosphate, glycerin, carbomer and carragen. Artificial sweetners such as saccharin, sorbitol and xylitol may be harmful if swallowed. Detergents and surfactants (which create foam) including socium laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS, ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS)  and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES) are known hormone and endocrine disruptors and may also be carciogenic and gene mutagens. SLS in particular is known to cause bleeding gums.

Check out my YouTube series of short videos about toothpaste ingredients. 

Read the ingredients before you buy a toothpaste, or make your own.

One of my favorite homemade toothpastes is coconut oil and baking soda, sometimes with a drop of essential oil.

It doesn’t foam, and it tastes quite salty making me produce lots of saliva, so brushing is a messy job. But it leaves my mouth feeling very clean. Because baking soda can be abrasive I don’t recommend using it every single time you brush (see #5).

3. Scraping only the front of your tongue

Tongue scraping is a great way to keep your breath smelling sweet. You can buy a special tongue scraper at a health shop or just use the edge of a spoon.

Scrape your tongue from back to front to remove the coating of microbes and mucus that migrate up the alimentary canal, especially at night (causing morning breath). Most of the coating is at the back of the tongue so reach as far back as you can.

Rinse the coating off the scraper or spoon with hot water and repeat until your tongue is clean (i.e. nothing is coming off on the scraper). Usually two or three scrapes is enough.

4. Bleaching your teeth

Bleaching teeth at the dentist or with a kit will gradually eat away at your enamel, making your teeth ultimately more vulnerable to staining, as well as cavities. Bleaching really shouldn’t be used if you have amalgam fillings because the chemicals interact with the metal fillings and may release mercury into your system.

The blinding white smiles you see on magazine models and movie stars are from veneers (or Photoshop), not from bleaching. The safest and most sustainable way to the whitest teeth is by eating a teeth healing diet with plenty of the right minerals and fat-soluble vitamins. 

That’s because the whiteness of your teeth comes from dentin which is the layer of underneath your enamel. Strong, hard, healthy enamel is naturally translucent and reveals the healthy white dentin below.

‘Natural’ whitening methods like activated charcoal, baking soda or turmeric all work more gently but are still slightly abrasive and are shouldn’t be used every day (see #4). Oil pulling can help whiten teeth too (but could be risky if you have amalgam fillings, see #6).

5. Using an abrasive toothpaste every day

Many toothpastes, both big brands and health store alternatives, contain abrasive ingredients such as calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, benonite clay, salt, baking soda or activated charcoal. Unless you have very sensitive teeth or soft enamel it’s ok to use these ingredients, but probably not every day. Give your teeth a break and brush without abrasion more often.

You can buy an abrasive-free toothpaste or you can make your own. You can even brush with just coconut oil or water or even a dry brush with a drop of essential oil. Your brushing technique is really more important that what you put on your brush (see #1 and #10).

6. Oil pulling with amalgams

Oil pulling can be a wonderful way to deep clean your teeth and gums. You simply put a tablespoon of cold-pressed oil such as coconut (best for teeth) or sesame (best for gums) in your mouth and swish it around for 5-20 minutes before spitting it out. Don’t spit down a drain though- it will clog. And definitely don’t swallow!

However, there is a unknown risk that oil pulling may release mercury from amalgam (metal or black) fillings into your system. There is no research to confirm whether this an actual risk or not, but given that oil pulling works by pulling toxins out of your mouth, and mercury is a toxin, I think its worth taking into consideration.  

Check out this post about oil pulling.

Register now to watch the Holistic Tooth Fairy's FREE online workshop recording on how to maintain oral health at home. Learn how to:

  • Prevent dental emergencies with teeth & gum nourishing foods, herbs and supplements
  • Protect your gums by fine tuning your oral hygiene habits 
  • Relieve jaw tension to avoid breaking enamel or fillings
  • Do your own oral health self assessments to identify any issues
  • Evaluate whether an issue needs a dentist urgently or can wait
  • Manage issues with holistic home remedies until normal dental services resume

7. Using a hard bristled toothbrush

When it comes to tooth brushes, the softer the better! Hard bristles can damage teeth enamel and gums.

Abrading your gums with hard bristles can break the surface allowing bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and potentially cause inflammation in your gut, heart or lungs.

If you have receding or bleeding gums you really need to use soft round tipped bristles and brush very very gently.

You can soften your toothbrush even more by running it under hot water before you start brushing.

8. Cutting your gums when you floss

If your teeth are very close together, and you have to push hard to get floss between them, you risk cutting into your gums with regular dental floss. Try swapping for a dental tape or dental ribbon with a flat surface so it is gentler on your gums.  Check out this video demonstrating how to floss correctly.

Interdental brushes (Piksters is one brand) are ideal if you have gums prone to bleeding and your teeth aren’t crowded to closely. Interdental brushes look like tiny bottle brushes and are used for cleaning the triangular gap between two teeth and the gum.

Poke the brush in that gap and gently rub away the fermentable carbohydrates and plaque.

Or, go high tech and try water flossing with an oral irrigator (like a waterpik). It’s a gentle and effective way to clean between teeth, around the gum line and even into gum pockets. A waterpik is a good solution for anyone prone to frequently bleeding gums.

9. Using an alcohol based mouthwash

Ethanol is the main ingredient in most mouthwashes. Aside from being very drying, alcohol-based mouthwashes are known to cause oral cancer.

Keep your mouth fresh and healthy by rinsing with salt water or a sage rinse.

Check out this video demonstrating how to make a simple natural mouthwash.

 10. Getting bored

Rushing through the same mindless routine morning and night does your teeth and gums no favors. Here are some suggestions to help you to enjoy taking your time to brush and floss mindfully.

  • Brush with a buddy. You might not be able to chat while you are brushing but some friendly companionship can help with FOMO while you are in the bathroom taking care of your teeth.
  • Change up your flavours. Switch between different toothpastes  and tooth powders. Experiment with a variety of essential oils on your floss. Have a couple of different rinses to choose from.
  • Time and track. Put on a timer to spend 10 minutes on your teeth morning and night. Mark the calendar with an X or put a sticker on a chart and try to fill a whole month without missing a day.
  • Environmental improvement. Make your bathroom a more enjoyable place to hang out in with flowers, candles or crystals.
  • Listen up. Put on your favorite music, podcast or audio book and enjoy some distraction
  • Be mindful. Listen to a recording of a guided meditation or affirmations.

Forgive your mistakes

What if you have been making one or more of the mistakes on this list?

First of all, its never too late to change your oral care habits.  But more importantly please don’t beat yourself up about it.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your teeth is to be kind.

Too often we have a difficult time paying attention to our teeth because we feel bad about:

  • how they look or feel;
  • how we’ve treated them in the past;
  • how they have been mistreated by rough dentistry.

Your teeth cleaning time is the best time to think loving thoughts towards your teeth and gums, and forgive yourself any imperfections.   Try using this mantra adapted from the beautiful Hawaiian forgiveness prayer called Ho’oponopono. Direct love and gratitude towards your teeth as you think these words:

I am sorry.

I love you.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

For more excellent information about oral care at home I highly recommend the book Holistic Dental Care: The complete guide to healthy teeth and gums by Nadine Artemis.

I love recommending books and I love the Book Depository so I have partnered with them for my recommendations. If you choose to purchase through my link I may receive a commission. Win win! Yay!

Register now to watch the Holistic Tooth Fairy's FREE online workshop recording on how to maintain oral health at home. Learn how to:

  • Prevent dental emergencies with teeth & gum nourishing foods, herbs and supplements
  • Protect your gums by fine tuning your oral hygiene habits 
  • Relieve jaw tension to avoid breaking enamel or fillings
  • Do your own oral health self assessments to identify any issues
  • Evaluate whether an issue needs a dentist urgently or can wait
  • Manage issues with holistic home remedies until normal dental services resume

Has a dentist told you that your cavities or receding gums are your fault because you are drinking too much Coke, you don’t floss enough or you need to stop breastfeeding your baby? And you know that isn’t true!

I’m a natural oral health coach and I'm not going to blame you or shame you.
The underlying causes of your oral health issues are not your fault!

Nature or nurture, ancestry or environment, free will or systemic oppression, unconscious emotions or the degraded food system are the factors that make your teeth and gums vulnerable to disease.

Even though your tooth decay and gum disease is not your fault, it is within your power to change.

I can help you to turn your oral health around with natural strategies, healthy habits and intuitive insights. 

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