It’s all part of the night time ritual: stand before the bathroom vanity with a lather of toothpaste in your mouth as you vigorously brush away food and plaque. However, does the fact that it’s part of the daily routine mean it’s the best way to do things? According to current research, it may be time to lose (or at least lessen) the lather and try dry brushing.
What Is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is the act of brushing one’s teeth without toothpaste. This may seem counterintuitive—we associate foamy soap with a good clean and the minty aftertaste of toothpaste with clean teeth. However, according to emerging research, it may be more effective to spend at least some of your dental-care time dry brushing, up to 67% more effective.
The Nitty Gritty
Dry brushing, with its uncushioned bristles, packs a greater punch than brushing with toothpaste, so it is especially effective against plaque buildup on the inside surface of the lower teeth. When your mouth isn’t full of foam, the tricky-to-reach areas in your mouth are more accessible, meaning they can get scrubbed down too when you dry brush.
Although, on average, people brush their teeth for 45 seconds to a minute and a half, the American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes twice daily, and research indicates that significantly longer (try 8–10 minutes) is better for dislodging harmful buildup. It can be terribly uncomfortable or even dangerous to have spicy foaming toothpaste in one’s mouth for that long, but that’s not a problem if you use the dry brush method. Dry brushing allows you to brush for longer for a more thorough clean.
In the same vein, because you don’t fill your mouth with spicy toothpaste and water when dry brushing, you don’t need to stand near a sink while you dry brush your teeth. You can pack a toothbrush and sneak in additional brushing sessions after a meal on the go, without any need for water or toothpaste. This can prevent stains before they have the chance to set in.
This locational flexibility also makes dry brushing more accessible for those who are disabled or who otherwise find it difficult to stand for extended periods of time. You can dry brush while you sit on the couch and relax at the end of the day or while traveling, either on the commute or even longer jaunts. Just be sure to rinse with water afterwards.
A mouth that is minty or cinnamon-y may taste clean, but without properly brushing away plaque and other buildup, that fresh taste may just offer a false sense of security. Even going on feel alone is not always indicative of a good clean, since most commercial toothpastes contain glycerin and other oils to make your teeth feel smooth. Do not let these sensory triggers trick you into brushing for a shorter time than is effective. It helps if you dry brush before traditional teeth brushing.
Tips to Successfully Dry Brush Your Teeth
Many of the same rules about brushing your teeth that you’ve heard parroted since you were a child still apply to dry brushing. It is best to hold your toothbrush at your gumline at a 45-degree angle and use small circular motions as you sweep the bristles across your teeth. A brush with soft bristles will protect your teeth and gums from the rigors of brushing, especially because without the mitigating effects of toothpaste, dry bristles are stiffer. While this means that they do a better job of removing plaque, it is still important to be kind to your enamel.
For the sake of hygiene, make sure to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after dry brushing. It is also important to replace your toothbrush at least every three months, and more often if your brush looks shabby or discolored. Don’t forget to scrub your tongue and gums when you brush your teeth, and don’t worry about brushing for too long. Some schools of thought suggest that brushing for up to 20 minutes won’t go amiss, which is much easier while sitting and binging Netflix than while standing by the sink.
Use dry brushing in conjunction with traditional toothbrushing. Dry brushing will dislodge debris and puncture layers of plaque, and the subsequent use of toothpaste provides the benefits of strengthening fluoride. In addition to all your one dental hygiene measures, continue working with your dentist to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy and strong. If you have any dental questions or concerns, feel free to call Covington Dental Arts today.
Leave a Reply