Hands holding a toothbrush and placing toothpaste on it in morning sunrise

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush

You use your toothbrush daily, but odds are you don’t pay too much attention to that little utensil. We think the toothbrush is a pretty cool device, and we think you will too after you learn a little more about it. Below, we share five things you probably didn’t know about your toothbrush and your oral health.

Five Fun Facts About Your Toothbrush

Here’s a look at five things we bet you didn’t know about the toothbrush.

  1. It’s over 5,000 years old – The toothbrush has been around a lot longer than you probably imagined. Although it has had different forms, ancient civilizations first began using “chew sticks” to remove food from between your teeth 5,000 years ago. Over time, toothbrushes were crafted from bone, wood, and ivory handle using stiff bristles from some animals. The first modern-styled toothbrush created in 1938.
  2. The first mass-produced toothbrush was created in prison – Back in 1770, an Englishman named William Addis was sent to jail for inciting a riot. He saw another inmate using a rag to clean his teeth and decided to create a better device. He saved an animal bone from dinner, put holes in it, inserted bristles and sealed it with glue. Following his release, he modified the prototype and started a company and manufactured his toothbrush. His company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still operates in the United Kingdom.
  3. They Should Be Replaced Every 3-6 Months – Although toothbrushes have been around for 5,000 years, that doesn’t mean your current model should stick around too long. Get in the habit of replacing your toothbrush every 3-6 months, because the bristles can lose their effectiveness by this time. If you’re going to the dentist every six months as is recommended, replace your old toothbrush with the new one you receive after every semi-annual checkup.
  4. Manual or Electric, It Doesn’t Matter – When it comes to brushing your teeth and keeping them clean, it doesn’t matter whether you use a manual or electric option. Both types of toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth, so find what feels best to you. As long as you’re brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, your teeth are going to be in great shape.
  5. Let Them Breathe, But Not Near Your Toilet – Finally, when you store your toothbrush, you want to keep it out where the bristles can breathe. Closed containers are more conducive to unwanted bacteria growth, so store it upright and where they can get some airflow. Dentists recommend you keep your toothbrush stored at least six feet away from your toilet so airborne microbes don’t reach your brush when you flush.

For more fun facts about toothbrushes, or to get your free toothbrush following a semi-annual checkup, contact our office today.

Brushing Technique

The Best Tooth Brushing Techniques

For most people, brushing their teeth is a mindless activity that is performed in the morning and before they go to bed. They don’t pay much attention to their brushing technique, and that can actually leave them exposed to dental problems. There’s a technique behind good brushing mechanics, and we’re going to walk you through them in today’s blog.

Know The Angles

For most surfaces, you can best hit their surface by having your brush at a 45-degree angle in relation to the tooth. With that said, sometimes it’s easier to hit the tops of our back teeth by turning the brush so it’s parallel to your tongue.

All Three Surfaces

When mindlessly brushing, you’re more likely to just hit the outer surface of your teeth, but that’s not going to protect them. You want to hit the front, back and tops of every tooth, and try to hit the back sides of the last teeth in the back of your mouth. Just because you can’t see these surfaces when you smile doesn’t mean that you can ignore them when brushing.

Brush Pattern

Use short strokes to effectively clean your teeth surfaces. These short, quick maneuvers will best help to remove plaque and other food particles from the surface of your teeth. When it comes to a side-to-side or circular brushing technique, it doesn’t really matter which technique you use so long as you spend enough time hitting each tooth surface.

Go The Extra Mile

For best results, don’t just brush your teeth. Brushing can’t hit between teeth surfaces very easily, so a lot of people pair brushing with another activity, like flossing or with mouthwash. Try to get in the habit of flossing at least once a day to remove food particles that brushing can’t reach, and consider adding mouthwash to your routine for extra protection.

If you’re following these brushing basics, we’re confident that you will have a healthy and bright smile for years to come. We also recommend pairing your daily dental habits with regular trips to the dentist’s office so they can do some deeper cleaning and take x-rays to look for things you can’t spot with the naked eye. If you’re interested in talking with a dentist about the best ways to protect your teeth, or you want to set up your next dental visit, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Kid Brushing Teeth

How To Get Your Child To Brush Their Teeth

Most kids don’t exactly love brushing their teeth, but brushing is a very important aspect of overall dental health, so it’s crucial you instill this habit early in life. In fact, many dentists recommend that you start implementing brushing techniques as soon as your child gets their first teeth.

When your child is cutting their first teeth, you can start with parent-led gentle brushing without toothpaste or even gum brushing. This helps to establish a routine, even if your child is too young to really comprehend what’s going on. As they get a little older, let them hold the brush and try it on their own. Again, establishing a routine and getting your child to buy into brushing their teeth is more important than having great brushing coverage at this point.

If your child doesn’t like the toothpaste, let them brush without any toothpaste or put a very small amount on. Again, getting them to buy into the regular routine is what’s most important.

Positive Reinforcement

Far be it from us to tell you how to parent, but professionally speaking, it seems that parents have better luck getting their child to buy into the brushing routine by practicing positive reinforcement as opposed to a reward/punishment system. By saying “If you don’t brush, you won’t get your toy,” you’re making the activity a chore or a stepping stone instead of something that is just routine.

Other options some parents have found helpful include:

  • Reading stories about the importance of brushing teeth.
  • Singing songs or playing a brushing song or dancing while brushing your teeth.
  • Brushing your teeth while your child is brushing theirs.
  • Letting your child help brush your teeth before they brush their own.
  • Having them “brush the teeth” on their favorite toy before they brush their own.

Again, there’s no perfect playbook for getting your child to regularly brush their teeth, but taking something away or withholding something from them when they don’t comply can lead to dental phobia. This means they’ll continue to be reluctant to brush their teeth, floss, or open up for routine dental care when they’re in our chair. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you and your child.

Smiles for Life Dental

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be worth it in the end if you can establish a healthy dental hygiene routine with your child. If you’re having issues, please don’t hesitate to call our office or look for other sources of information on the subject. Not only will it lead to a healthy smile for your child, but establishing a good dental health routine can save you money down the road by preventing cavities and other teeth problems. For more information or to schedule your child’s next appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks at Smiles for Life Dental today.

Changing Toothbrushes

When Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

If you’re like most people, you get a new toothbrush after your semi-annual cleaning at the dentist’s office. Since these checkups are usually bi-annual, most people assume they should be changing out their toothbrush after each visit, or roughly every six months. But is this an accurate timeline? Learn when you should swap out your toothbrush and what signs suggest you should invest in a new one.

Changing Your Toothbrush

Before we answer the question as to when you should replace your toothbrush, let’s take a look at some signs that suggest you should look for a new brush.

  • The Bristles are Bending – If the bristles are frayed or bent and no longer staying straight, they aren’t going to be as effective as a newer toothbrush.
  • Hardened Bristles – Over time, bristles can harden, and even if you clean out any toothpaste that may stick to the bristles after every wash, if the bristles are hardened until you run them under water and start brushing, swap out toothbrushes.
  • You’ve Been Sick – Even though allowing the brush to air dry will typically kill off any bacteria remaining on the brush, it may be worthwhile to change up the brush if you store it near others if you or your family members have been sick.
  • You Can’t Remember The Last Change – If you can’t remember the last time you swapped out brushes, it’s a good indicator that you’re ready for a new brush.

How Long Should You Use One Toothbrush

The above tips can help you determine if you need a new toothbrush, but some people find it easier to replace their toothbrush every so often. A lot of patients swap out their brushes every six months after regular cleanings, but that may be too long with one brush.

According to the American Dental Association, the consensus is you should swap out your toothbrush every three months if you’ve been brushing two times a day. Bristles tend to wear down and lose effectiveness after close to 100 brushes, so you should be going through about four toothbrushes every year. This goes for both manual toothbrushes and electric options with removable heads.

So, although you can grab a toothbrush from the dentist every six months, you’re probably going to need to stock up on extras to fill the gap between appointments, or if you’re lucky, we may throw in a second brush after your visit with Dr. Brooks.

For more information about brushing and oral health, or to set up your next visit, reach out to our team today.

Electric Toothbrush

Does An Electric Toothbrush Work Better Than A Manual?

Electric toothbrushes have grown in popularity in recent years, but many people wonder if they actually do a better job cleaning their teeth than a standard hand-held toothbrush. So which one should you choose for your mouth? We answer that question and more in today’s blog.

Benefits and Drawbacks

An electric toothbrush does offer a couple distinct advantages over a manual toothbrush, but it also has some drawbacks. For starters, electric toothbrushes may be a good option for older adults who have trouble reaching all surfaces of their teeth, or who have a condition like arthritis that can make twisting and turning your wrist painful. Electric toothbrushes can also be beneficial for children, who may find the electric option a little more exciting than the standard toothbrush. If it encourages them to brush more frequently and more thoroughly, then it may be worth the investment.

On the flip side, electric toothbrushes also have some drawbacks. For starters, they need a power source in order to function, so if you’re going on a trip and your forget your charger or batteries, you may be reduced the a handheld option. Secondly, electric options are typically much more expensive than a standard toothbrush, easily running ten times the price of a regular toothbrush, and they are even more expensive in comparison if you get your toothbrush free from the dentist after a visit!

Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrush

But now to answer the question that’s the focus of the blog, do electric toothbrushes clean better than manual brushing options? The answer is no.

Standard toothbrushes clean just as well as electric options so long as the brusher takes two minutes to really clean every surface of their teeth. It’s is much more important to practice good brushing habits than to choose one type of toothbrush over the other. However, as we mentioned above, some people may find other benefits of one specific type of toothbrush, so either option works fine if you commit to a good dental hygiene plan.

For more information on the differences between an electrical and manual toothbrush option, or to lean more about developing a good dental hygiene plan, reach out to Dr. Brooks office today.

Kids Brush Teeth

Tips For Getting Your Kids To Brush Their Teeth

You’ve probably grown to appreciate the role brushing your teeth has in your dental care routine over the years, but as a kid, you probably weren’t head over heels for making time to brush 2-3 times a day. Most kids don’t want to stop playing with their toys or watching a movie to get in front of the mirror and brush their teeth, but it’s essential for keeping their teeth healthy long into their adult years.

Since it’s important that children regularly brush their teeth, but it’s an activity that most won’t do on their own, how can we make it so that brushing their teeth seems less like a chore? Below, we share some tips for making brushing their teeth a more enjoyable experience.

Add Some Music

Don’t just sit there and brush in silence for two minutes, spice up the bathroom routine with some music. Play one of your child’s favorite songs and sing and dance while you brush. There are also some apps for your phone that have videos or music that plays for two minutes, so you child knows exactly how long they need to brush for. Find what works best for your child.

Reward Good Brushers

Find a way to motivate your child to brush their teeth. Whether that’s letting them pick the bedtime story, putting a sticker on the chore chart or simply getting a big high five from mom and dad, reward them for good brushing habits. While candy and chocolate may be good rewards for other behaviors, we don’t recommend it for a well brushed mouth!

Favorite Characters

Odds are your child has a favorite cartoon or superhero, so consider adding them to the routine. Whether that’s a Buzz Lightyear toothbrush or by finding a story about brushing on Youtube featuring their favorite character (there’s more out there than you might imagine), find a way to incorporate their favorite character into their brushing routine.

A Family Affair

Even if you’re not ready for bed when your child is brushing their teeth, it’s a good habit to brush your teeth while they are brushing theirs. Not only does it set a good example, but kids often want to emulate mom and dad, so if they see you doing it, they’ll be more likely to have a good attitude about brushing. Bring the whole family in to brush their teeth if it helps!

Regular Routine

Our final tip involves setting a routine and sticking to it. It can be easy to get out of a normal bathroom routine if you’ve had long days or are on vacation, but make it a point to help your child brush in the morning and at night. Don’t let skipping the brushing routine become a habit. Do it every day, and it will become second nature in no time.

Toothbrush FAQ

4 Toothbrush FAQs

The average person has a lot of questions about toothbrushes – how to use them, store them, and more. In this article, we are going to answer some frequently asked questions about toothbrushes.

Should I Brush First or Floss First?

Many patients ask what the correct order of operations is when it comes to brushing and flossing. The truth is that it doesn’t matter all that much. The most important thing is to brush and floss your teeth regularly – regardless of the order.

Where Should I Keep My Toothbrush?

It’s a common misconception that you should keep your toothbrush in a sealed container in between uses. In fact, it’s much better to keep your toothbrush out in the open after use. This allows it to air dry effectively. Keeping it in a closed contained allows for an increased change of bacterial growth. Keep your toothbrush out in the open, upright, and make sure it’s not touching any other toothbrushes.

How Often (and How Long) Should I Brush?

The general rule of thumb is brush your teeth twice a day, for two to three minutes at a time. Many people brush in the morning when the get up and right before bed. Do whatever works for you but be sure to brush twice a day!

How Should I Position the Brush?

We recommend placing the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line so that the bristles are pointing where they can gently brush under the gums. Using a circular technique along the gum line instead of a back and forth scrub technique works the best to remove plaque.

Dentist’s Office in Bloomington, MN

Dr. Tim Brooks has many years of experience helping patients in the Twin Cities and surrounding area with their dental health needs. At Smiles for Life, we work with patients to provide individualized care from start to finish. Our team provides family and cosmetic dentistry and has the skills to address your dental issue – whatever it may be. Contact us today to set up your appointment with Dr. Brooks at our Bloomington dental clinic and keep your teeth happy and healthy!