Sunday, October 21, 2012

When and how to clean your teeth

Back in high school I knew a certain person who really could have used this blog. (Alas, this was in the dark decades before such things as blogs existed. These are indeed the days of miracles and wonders.) Detailing his grave misunderstanding of personal space and all his copious breaches of the rules of basic hygiene would take the better part of a day, but to my mind the most skin-crawling aspect of his being was his cavalier disregard for dental care. His teeth were usually furry, ill-defined, and (after drinking a soda) bright orange. When he turned his smile on you, you weren't so much dazzled as you were simply stunned.

Don't be that guy. Please. One specimen was more than enough to burn a permanent impression into my brain.

When to brush: at least twice a day, once after breakfast and once after your last meal of the day. You can brush more often if you want, but you shouldn't brush less.

You will need:
  1. Your very own soft-bristled toothbrush; on which, see more below.
  2. Fluoride toothpaste.
  3. A potable water source.
  4. A cup.
  5. Somewhere to spit that won't get you in trouble, such as a sink.
  6. Mouthwash (optional).
  7. Dental floss or floss picks.
You must have YOUR OWN TOOTHBRUSH for a practical reason. At the best of times, your mouth is chock full of germs, and when you get sick, it gets even worse. Since you don't want to make yourself or anyone else ill (right? RIGHT?!), get your own toothbrush and don't lend it to anyone. If you suspect someone else has been using it, swab it down with alcohol, then rinse very thoroughly in hot water. (Then go poke the dastardly toothbrush thief in the eye. That'll show 'em.) In any case, since teethbreesh do wear out, you should replace yours every 3 months or so.

Wet down your toothbrush bristles. Apply a dab of toothpaste to them, about the size of a pea. (Despite what the commercials show, you really don't need more.)

Start at the top front of your teeth, aiming the bristles up at about a 45 degree angle from the tooth surface. You don't need to brush hard; just give each tooth surface a few seconds of attention and move along, gently moving the bristles up into the gum line. Work back to the molars on one side, scrubbing back to front. Then switch the brush around to the other side of your mouth and hit the molars on that side as well.

Flip the brush around to do the inside surfaces of the same teeth, again aiming the bristles up at about a 45 degree angle and working on one tooth surface at a time, hitting the gum line with the bristles.

Now work on the bottom front teeth, aiming the brush down at a 45 degree angle from the tooth surface so you can get those bristles down into the lower gums. Follow the same basic instructions to clean the outside and inside surfaces of the lower teeth.

If you're pressing too hard or you haven't been brushing your gums correctly, you may see some bleeding. If your gums continue to bleed after a few weeks of brushing, it's time to visit the dentist.

Brush your tongue gently to refresh your mouth. Fill your cup with water, swish the water around your mouth well, and spit out the excess toothpaste into the sink. Rinse off your toothbrush in the water and put it away.

If you're using mouthwash, pour a small amount (say about a tablespoon) into the cup, swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out into the sink.

Pull off a strand of dental floss about 12 inches long and wrap the ends around your index fingers, or use a floss pick. Work the floss into the spaces between each tooth, top and bottom rows, one by one. When you're finished flossing, you may need to rinse and spit again. Discard the floss.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. (G.I. Joe!)

No comments:

Post a Comment