Brush up on your teeth cleaning skills

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By Dr. Stephanie McGannDMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

Did you know that May is designated National Dental Care Month?

I didn’t but it seems there is a national month for everything. I just learned that May is National Dental Care Month. A great time to share some toothbrushing tips.

According to the people at the national calendar – National Dental Care Month brings awareness just in time for a summer full of family reunions, weddings, and vacations – all times when we love to take pictures and smile! So, brush up on your dental care and check up with your dentist.

It seems like there is a day of celebration for everything, from National Egg month to National Harvey Wallbanger Day. Some deserve the attention and recognition while some seem completely ridiculous…unless it specifically relates to you.

And since there are over 1,500 national days, someone always has a reason to celebrate.

Sure, there are probably a lot of people out there that couldn’t care less about National Dental Care Month. But at the very least this new national month of recognition gives the dental profession the opportunity to raise awareness, spread the message of optimal oral health, and celebrate our collective smiles.

Proper toothbrush FAQ’s

Mouth open or mouth closed?

After lunch or after dinner?

Flat or at an angle?

The answers to these questions really depend on every individual’s needs.

We brush our teeth every day (hopefully!), but who knew it was this complicated. Just grab a brush a get to work, right? Not so fast, my friend! There are actually some best practices to be mindful of when brushing those pearly whites.

The trick is cutting through the fake news and finding out exactly what works. We live in a world of alternate facts, truthiness, and lists of “7 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Clean Without Picking Up a Toothbrush.” What’s even correct these days?!

Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with this handy FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide. We’ll keep it simple with some easy dos and don’ts of brushing. Let’s get to it!

Proper Brushing Habits

Don’t: Keep your brush flat

Do: Use a 45-degree angle when brushing

Don’t: Use looooooooong strokes. No need to cover your whole mouth in one stroke!

Do: Use short, side to side strokes

Don’t: Brush with the force of a giant. This isn’t a strongman contest!

Do: Gently cover all areas. A gentle touch helps prevent wear and tear on your enamel

Don’t: Go one and done

Do: Brush at least twice a day, especially after eating or drinking something acidic (like citrus or soda)

Don’t: Be sentimental and use the same toothbrush for life

Do: Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. A trick to remember: switch out on the first day of each season

Don’t: Be average – the average person brushes their teeth for 45 seconds

Do: Brush for a full 2 minutes. A helpful trick: say the alphabet while brushing a certain section, move to the next section after you hit Z.

Don’t: Keep your toothbrush in a closed container

Do: All your toothbrush to air dry

Don’t: Store your toothbrush on the sink counter where bathroom particles can get on it

Do: Store your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet

Don’t: Wield a tough-bristled brush

Do: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which is much better for your tooth enamel

And there we have it! Some easy practices to keep that perfect smile. Remember: Brushing is only 4 minutes out of the day, so why not make it the best 4 minutes of the day. Have a great National Dental Care Month!

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and owns and practices at Rainbow Valley Dental, in Valley. She is a past President of the Chester/Delaware Dental Society and she is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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