Taking selfies while you’re brushing your teeth can help you learn how to improve your oral health care skills, according to a new study.
If visions of water-damaged smartphones splattered with toothpaste are now running through your brain, fret not. The people who participated in the study propped their phones safely in stands, and then put their phone cameras on a timer or grabbed video selfies while brushing.
Using smart phones propped on stands, study participants filmed their brushing at home. Researchers saw an increase in the accuracy of brush strokes, an increase in number of strokes and an overall 8 percent improvement in tooth-brushing skill–but the length of time a person brushed did not change.
“Often, tooth-brushing is learned and practiced without proper supervision,” said Lance T. Vernon, a senior instructor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and co-author of the study, told Medical News Today. “Changing tooth brushing behaviors–which are ingrained habits tied to muscle memory–can take a lot of time and guidance.”
“Our study suggests that, in the future, recording these selfies can help shift some of this time investment in improving brushing to technology,” added Vernon. “Patients can then receive feedback from dental professionals.”
Just grabbing some selfies can result in positive changes, because its likely you’ll become more conscious of how you brush. Most of us have been brushing twice a day for so many years that we just do it on autopilot.
How To Brush Your Teeth
According to a recent survey by the American Dental Association (ADA), when it comes to basic facts about dental hygiene, most of us are uninformed. For example, 91 percent of people didn’t know that the ADA recommends brushing just twice a day rather than after every meal; that’s to prevent excessive tooth wear. Also, only 35 percent correctly answered the question about how often you need to change your toothbrush (every three months).
The ADA – and your dentist, no doubt – recommend that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a head that’s small enough to fit comfortably in your mouth, yet is able to reach all areas that need cleaning. You should also use an ADA-approved toothpaste.
Ready? Hold your toothbrush in your fingers (not your fist), against your teeth at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Brush gently using short up-and-down strokes over the surfaces of your teeth—or, use an elliptical (oval-shaped) pattern if you prefer. Brush just a few teeth at a time – the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces, and the spaces in between – before moving onto the next three teeth, and so on. The entire process should take at least two minutes. If you’re done in less time, you did a less than through job.
Finish up by gently brushing your tongue, floss, and rinse.
Why You Really Need To Brush Correctly
More than 500 species of microscopic living organisms live in your mouth. They eat, they excrete waste, reproduce, and die. Some of these creatures are helpful to your oral health, others are neutral, and a sizable percentage seem bent on destruction of your teeth and gums.
Bacteria are amazingly adept at developing survival strategies. They produce a substance called dextran which works like a glue and enables your bacterial buddies to cling to the surface of teeth. They can also snack on the dextran, and any simple carbohydrates (particularly sugar) that you consume. Carb-fueled bacteria multiply super-fast and cling to each other, creating a “biofilm” that’s commonly referred to as plaque.
Bacterial plaque is the primary cause of 90% of all dental disease. Bacteria secrete acidic waste products. This creates an acidic environment in your mouth that weakens teeth and leads to decay. Over time, without proper oral hygiene and dental care, the plaque clinging to teeth works its way under the gums, resulting in oral infections.
Your best defense is consistent removal of the bacterial plaque. If its left alone for about 48 hours, it begins to harden – this is called tartar – and is extremely difficult to remove by simple brushing and flossing. You need professional cleanings to remove tartar. Even if you do brush regularly, it’s easy to miss tartar that can be lurking between your teeth, in tiny chips and cracks, or just under the gum line.
If you’ve been skipping cleanings and checkups due to budget issues, check out dental savings plans. With a plan, you can save 10%-60% on a wide variety of preventive dental care —including cleanings, checkups and x-rays—and restorative treatments.
Find out more about dental savings plans at dentalplans.com, or by calling 1-800-238-5163.