Pediatric patient smiling while brushing

Breaking Down The Basics: Brushing Up

Everyone knows the basics when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth… The recommended preventative care seems simple enough- brush and floss twice a day and avoid eating too many sugary treats. But like most professional advice, easier said than done.

Why do so many of us still need dental treatment even when we are following these instructions? ‘Tooth be told’, there is more to preventing gum disease and tooth decay than the general guidelines may suggest. KidZdent breaks down brushing and what you need to know!

Creating Cavities

Bacteria feeds just like any other living entity, and they have a special affection for sugar. When bacteria consumes sugar, acids are produced which can demineralize tooth enamel, leaving white chalky stains and microscopic holes not visible to our eyes. Once this process has begun, if it isn’t stopped or repaired, these holes can progress into cavities. 

Brushing Up On Your Skills

Many people do not realize there is a science behind the techniques recommended for brushing one’s teeth. And how you do it makes a big difference in the results of your overall oral health. The actual mechanics of brushing your teeth removes food particles and sticky bacteria buildup, more commonly known as plaque. Plaque is the byproduct of bacteria, acids and food remnants that stick to the enamel of your teeth and create a home in between your teeth and along your gum line. Although this formation occurs naturally on the teeth immediately after a person finishes eating, it does not typically begin to cause any damage until it reaches a specific level of maturity over time. The exact amount of time cannot be pin pointed, but typically at least more than 12 hours for plaque to really develop and cling on would be a fair assessment.  

Target Your Teeth

  • Spend a full two minutes to brush your teeth
  • Brush and floss at least 2x per day- once in the morning, once at night after you have finished eating for the day, and if possible, after meals throughout the day. By brushing this frequently you could be getting ahead of the problem and stopping the bacteria from developing to a stage where the most acid is produced and established.

Manual Toothbrushes Vs Electric Toothbrushes

Fact or Fiction: Are electronic toothbrushes more effective?

Bottom line, the main thing is to get brushing! Electronic toothbrushes can be more effective if they are being used correctly and efficiently. It’s really more about technique and thorough cleaning. Small toothbrush heads have a tendency to help extend to those hard to reach and awkward areas in the mouth. Soft bristles are best used to scrub the surfaces without causing harm to sensitive gums or teeth. 

Benefits of Brushing: Fluoride Toothpaste is a MUST!

The type of toothpaste used is very important when it comes to the success of brushing. The key ingredient to focus on: fluoride. Research and evidence prove that fluoride, whether from toothpaste or mouthwash will help prevent tooth decay because it can remineralize the areas damaged by plaque and make teeth stronger. Many dentists recommend a toothpaste with 1350-1500 ppmF (concentration of fluoride in parts per million) to achieve the maximum advantage. Many parents do not understand or know to look on the label in the back of the tube, but not all children’s toothpastes are designed to be strong enough to gain the total benefit. Some pediatric dentists will prescribe higher strength fluoride toothpastes for children who are at a higher risk for tooth decay. Others may even suggest disclosing tablets which are available in your local grocery store. Disclosing tablets color the plaque making it more visible and highlighting the areas that a person may be missing while brushing. Plaque is usually hard to see because it is tooth colored, but you may notice that it makes your teeth look dull instead of shiny.


Individuals tend to produce less saliva during the night than they do during the day. For this reason, a person’s teeth have less protection from saliva and are more vulnerable and prone to acid attacks while they are asleep.  For this reason, nighttime brushing is the most important, and why it is imperative to remove food from one’s teeth before bedtime so the plaque cannot feast overnight. Proper use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash at night provides an opportunity for it to do its job without disruption. It is best to not eat or drink anything after brushing- not even water if possible- allowing your teeth to bathe in fluorides protective minerals while you sleep. This can reduce tooth decay by up to 25%.

Four ‘Sugar Hits’

The World Health Organization and NHS recommend ‘FREE’ sugars should ideally make up less than 5% of your daily calorie intake. ‘Free’ sugars are the chemically enhanced components added to foods by manufacturers. These extra additives are often supplemented alongside intrinsic sugars naturally found in fruits, honey, syrup, juices, etc., and cause excessive tooth decay. 

When it comes to sugar, how much and how often you consume sugar matters. Teeth may be exposed to approximately four sugar hits per day before leading to damage that may be irreversible to the teeth. Fortunately, through the actions of fluoride toothpaste and the revitalizing effects of saliva, your teeth can recover from the early stages of these attacks. It’s like having a set of scales — trying to keep the balance between sugars on one side, fluoride toothpaste and proper tooth cleaning on the other.

An easy way to cut down on sugar intake would be to stop adding sugar to hot beverages and limit the snacking. Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and spit don’t rinse, allowing the fluoride to bathe your teeth throughout the night.  Do not eat or drink for thirty minutes after brushing in the morning, and don’t have sugar more than four times daily. Easy!

For more information on proper oral hygiene, please call us at 732-679-2323.

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