For some people, the thought of brushing their teeth makes them uncomfortable or even afraid. While this may seem like a joke to those not accustomed with the idea, it is a serious concern for individuals who are unable to brush their teeth. If you have difficulty brushing your teeth, then the good news is there is help for you. Below are a few strategies for eliminating this difficulty as well as a few non-brushing alternatives that can make your mouth a healthier place:
For some individuals who don't like brushing their teeth, the reluctance stems from the toothpaste and not the toothbrush itself. Toothpastes contain a variety of chemicals designed to strip away plaque, kill disease-causing microorganisms and leave a protective layer of fluoride on the teeth. However, some of these substances have an unnatural flavor or texture that causes unpleasant responses for affected persons.
In that situation, it can help to brush your teeth merely using plain tap water or water mixed with hydrogen peroxide or salt. The brushing action alone is helpful in removing decay-causing bacteria and stimulating the gums. Just be sure to follow up your brushing by using a non-alcohol, fluoride mouthwash to provide your teeth with the necessary protection between cleanings.
Use an oral irrigation device
An oral irrigation device that sprays a fine stream of water can be a great way to augment or even replace brushing for a period of time as you ease back into brushing. These devices are good at removing food particles between teeth and can also clean the gum lines. When using an oral irrigation device, you can augment the effectiveness of the water by adding a small amount of fluoride mouthwash. Just be sure to keep your irrigation heads and water reservoir clean to avoid bacterial growth that can be counterproductive to your oral health.
Overcome gag reflex problems
An overly-sensitive gag reflex can be a crippling problem for some people when brushing their teeth. While the causes of gag reflex problems are often complex and unknown, there are some things that sufferers can do to help overcome the problem:
- Breathe through your nose—This will help reduce the perceived need to draw air through your throat and help your pharyngeal tissues to relax. You can reinforce this behavior by keeping your lips closed around your brush, which is also helpful in and of itself.
- Use an electric toothbrush—An electric toothbrush, particularly one with a small head, can decrease the amount of brush movement required in the mouth and be less-likely to trigger gagging.
- Brush only certain times of day—If you find your gag reflex is worse in the evening, try to brush earlier in the day. For those times when you can't brush due to gagging, use an alternative method to clean your teeth such as a mouthwash or irrigation.
Incorporate oil pulling into your routine
A method of oral care, oil pulling is essentially a prolonged rinsing of your mouth with a food-grade oil. Sesame seed oil is a traditional choice of oils, but any kind of oil is acceptable, including coconut, rapeseed, olive or vegetable oils. The method of action is straightforward; the oils lipid layer attracts the membranes of microbial organisms and "pulls" them away from the teeth.
If you suffer from tooth brushing difficulties, oil pulling is a gentle means of cleaning teeth and can be practiced as often as you like. Simply swish a small amount of a food-grade oil of your choice inside your mouth for about ten minutes and spit it into the trash. Be sure not to spit oil into your sink or toilet due to the potential for it to coagulate inside your plumbing and cause a blockage.
If you find your jaws are sore after an oil pulling session, either lessen the amount of time per session or swish less vigorously. The longer you practice oil pulling, the easier it will be as you accustom your mouth to the activity.
For more assistance or information, consult resources like Art of Dentistry Institute.