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Since we’re in the habit of sharing good habits with both adults and children, this one is for both of you – why not nip a bad habit in the bud, right? Chances are, the way you brush your teeth today is the way you brushed as a child: fast, slow, a little water, lots of water, mouth closed, mouth open – and so on. There are a ton of variations to good brushing, and unless you’re the child of a dentist or dental hygienist, you likely picked up a few you can safely discontinue as an adult. We’ll offer a few suggestions you might find useful, and at least one that’ll help you save on your water bill!
- Open up and say, “ah!” Ten bucks says you brush with your mouth open. As a youngster you likely developed the habit of keeping your mouth wide open as a way to check on your progress as you learned how to brush.
The trouble is, as you grew older, you also got a bit more aggressive with the toothbrush … brushing like a maniac to get it done quickly. The result? A loss of enamel and gum tissue. Don’t believe us? If you’re a back’n’forth brusher, ask your dentist – they’ll fill you in on where you stand. So, ease up a bit on the aggression with this simple tip: try keeping your mouth closed, or at least collapsed around your toothbrush. You’ll notice three things right away: you’ll have an easier time brushing the back of your teeth; you’ll gag less, or not at all, if that’s a problem for you; and your mirror will be a heck-of-a-lot cleaner ‘cause you won’t be splashing toothpaste all over it as you brush. Give it a try!
- Time for a rinse! Perhaps it’s time for another bet? Who out there rinses with water after brushing? Nearly everyone. Rinsing, however, defeats the preventative assist given to us by fluoride, which needs to remain on our teeth in order to do its job. So, try avoiding the rinse, and just spit out any toothpaste residue when you’re finished brushing. Yes, it’ll feel kinda’ weird the first few times you do this, but the results over time will be healthier teeth. If you just can’t bring yourself to ditch the water rinse, you can achieve similar results by rinsing with an ADA-approved fluoride rinse.
- A toothbrush kept in sight is a toothbrush that is used each night! Okay, so this is definitely true. Visual cues that support good habits are worth fostering. However, when it comes to your bathroom, keeping your toothbrush out on the counter (especially anywhere near the toilet) is … well, kinda’ gross. Without getting into details, keeping your toothbrush exposed to the … ahem … “elements” can result in its bristles picking up some of those elements along the way. Not good. So, consider placing your brush on your nightstand table instead.
- Water is cheap, let it run! Other than being wasteful, keeping the water running while you brush does a wonderful job of removing toothpaste from your brush – which is where you want it, right? If you’re one to run the water, you’ll no doubt recognize you use far more than the recommended amount of toothpaste, and sometimes may even have to re-load your brush mid-effort. Try turning off the water after the first rinse of your brush. You’ll notice quickly that what you really want is that initial dampening of your toothbrush, and not the costly waterfall you’ve been using for decades. You’ll also save about 10 gallons of water a day!
- We like our water cold! Using cold water is a habit that mainly comes from our desire to drink cold water. Except when it comes to brushing our teeth with the stuff, there really is no benefit – in fact, if you’re among the one in eight adults with sensitive teeth, warming up the tap a bit will likely do you a bit of good.
- Mix up your routine! Lastly, experts suggest maintaining too much of a routine when it comes to brushing is at the heart of the problem. So, again, experiment, and see what works for you – you might find some of the new habits you develop are far better than those you got hooked on as a three year old straining to reach the sink.