Humans have been brushing their teeth with a vengeance since the invention of the toothbrush in 15th century China. We can’t seem to scrub vigorously enough, foaming at the mouth like rabid crocodiles. 

It’s understandable when you consider the enemies: discoloration, trapped spinach, plaque and, as decades of mouthwash commercials tell us, all the germs that cause bad breath.

Finally, we’re starting to wise up. While elbow grease might be effective in removing shower mildew, we now know that it can cause your teeth some harm. Many of us, without realizing it, have been wearing down enamel as well as gum tissue.

The American Dental Association says good oral care starts with proper brushing. AMBA, the Association Member Benefits Advisors, has created an infographic of helpful brushing tips recommended by the ADA.

  • Use a soft bristle brush – The nylon must be pliable enough to get in between your teeth and not abrade them.
  • Brush up and down – Only the chewing surfaces get brushed back and forth; otherwise you can damage the gums. Turn the brush vertically to clean the front teeth.
  • Don’t rush when you brush – Devote two full minutes. That’s 30 seconds a quadrant, covering front, back, and chewing surfaces. 
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months – When the bristles fray, throw it away.

With research linking gum disease to heart problems, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and other conditions, it’s more important than ever to give brushing your full attention. Don’t text or walk around the house; watch what you’re doing in the mirror. Remember, be kind to your teeth and your teeth will be kind to you!

Regularly scheduled dental exams are recommended. AMBA Dental serves the needs of many active and retired educator associations across the United States. A dental plan from your association and AMBA can help you stay on track with regular oral care – and save you money.