The Brushing Guide For Pearly Teeth And Healthy Gums

Before badgering you with the responsibility for your poor oral health, the prime reason for regular dental cleaning needs to be cited. Yes, we all like pearly whites for pictures and for social acceptance. However, what we really should be focusing on is the removal of thriving harmful oral bacteria.

Let’s go back to school.


Since kindergarten, we’ve been drilled with rhymes and stories to ingrain the importance of personal hygiene, including oral health, in us (Remember ‘This Is The Way We Brush Our Teeth’?). You know you should be brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning after you wake up and once before you sleep at night. You know you should use a reliable toothpaste brand, preferably fluoride-based. And you know you need to get all food debris out of your hidden molars as well.


Then where are you going wrong?

The crux of the problem seems to lie in our state of mind while we brush our teeth. Most of us perform this daily ritual just as we crawl out of bed and into the bathroom in the morning or when we’re dog tired after a doggoned day at work before bed.


The common factor? The ‘let’s get it over and done with’ uninterested attitude.


Another problem is the ignorance of the correct way to brush. Common practices you may relate with are:
One-time brushing (mostly because of laziness): Not getting rid of the bacterial buildup in your mouth in the form of plaque (saliva + food particles + bacteria) will not only cause teeth and gum problems (worn out tooth enamel, receding gum line, bleeding gums, cavities, etc.) but can also cause stomach issues and systemic diseases like osteoporosis. Yes, the bacteria from your mouth can shimmy all the way down to other parts of your body.


Overdoing it by brushing 4-5 times a day: This will only irritate your gum lining and scrape your teeth’s protective enamel.

Holding the toothbrush at 90 degrees against your teeth and vigorously brushing with all your mustered strength: Again, this is a big enamel concern. Most of us think the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth. This is not true. You will be left with rough and dull teeth that are not going to look picture perfect. Also, while your teeth may be able to take the blows, your soft gums will yield.


Using a hard-bristled brush: A moment of truth. A soft-bristled brush will remove the same amount of food remnants as a hard-bristled one but is less of a threat to your teeth and gums.


Flossing after brushing: It is not really wrong. However flossing before you brush is the better practice. It will expose more gaps between your teeth that can then be easily penetrated by your toothpaste and toothbrush.

Unlearn to learn the right brushing technique. Use a soft- to medium-bristled toothbrush with a head small enough to fit way back into the corner crevasses of your mouth and is easy to hold and manoeuvre. In small circular movements, tilt your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush close to your gums. That’s where most of the (bacterial) action is. Do this on the front and back surfaces of your dental set, focusing on 2-3 teeth at a time. Here’s a demo video.

Then with back and forth strokes, clean the biting surfaces of your teeth. Finally, tilt your brush vertically behind your front two teeth and clean with several up and down strokes.


How often and when should you brush your teeth?

Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes each. Brushing before you sleep is more important that the over-emphasized-before-breakfast ritual. This is because at night your mouth becomes dry, allowing bacteria to release teeth-eroding acids. Make a personal chart to keep track if you’re particularly forgetful.


Brush your teeth preferably 15 minutes after you wake up and an hour before you snuggle into bed so that you’re more alert. Also, if you eat something sweet or acidic, it’s best you wait 30 minutes to an hour before you brush your now fragile enamel.

Look to Gaia for help.

Opt for natural dentifrices that are safe alternatives to large-scale commercially produced ones. These are especially handy when traveling for days by train or hiking for weeks on a mountain (you get the drift). Carrying the entire toothbrush-toothpaste-water kit may be quite the hassle. Instead, chew on neem or miswak sticks (great for pets too!) or crushed sage, bay, or mango leaves that conveniently and effectively serve the purpose.

Alternatively, carry a small bottle of coconut oil for quick oil pulling or gargle with brine solutions of sea salt, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide. Life is short, so smile while you still have teeth. Healthy teeth.