Many people are making crucial mistakes in their everyday dental hygiene routines, but a recent study shows that recording video “selfies” while tooth-brushing can help people learn how to improve their oral health care techniques. From Instagram to Snapchat to Facebook, the birth of the “selfie” has revolutionized modern society, and as it turns out, its stronghold is slowly tightening its grip on the medical community as well. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to keep teeth and gums healthy. While 70% of Americans are complying with this recommendation, many of those people are still making a number of mistakes that are compromising their oral health. But technology might be able to save the state of America’s dental hygiene. Video “selfies” of tooth-brushing are helping many people take control of their dental health by literally showing them the error of their ways.
Exercising a healthy oral hygiene routine is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth. Brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist are key components within that regimen. According to Dr. Stefania A. Caracioni of Enchanted Smiles, prioritizing oral health is more important than most people assume because a healthy mouth and smile can speak volumes.
“Quite often, a smile can be the first thing somebody notices about you,” Caracioni said. “Even slight alterations in the shape, proportion, alignment, shade, texture and translucency of the teeth can create dramatic differences in appearance and self-confidence.
Improper brushing techniques can significantly impact each of those components. That’s why while daily brushing and flossing are critical to good oral health, the technique is just as important. Here are several of the most common tooth-brushing mistakes:
- Not watching while brushing: Looking in the mirror helps ensure the entire mouth is being thoroughly cleaned. It’s easy to miss the finer creases along the gum line, so using the mirror to pay close attention can be helpful.
- Improper Technique: Many people brush their teeth in a side-to-side motion. However, this technique is ineffective. Brush in a circular motion, holding the brush, so the bristles are at a 45-degree angle and focus on a few teeth at a time before slowing moving on to the next few teeth.
- Brushing Too Hard: Brushing too vigorously can cause enamel breakage and can be traumatic for sensitive gums. Apply light pressure when brushing to avoid teeth and gum damage.
Even though research has pinpointed the most common flaws in everyday dental care, technology is what’s really changing the dental game. In a recent study conducted by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, video “selfies” are helping people change their dental habits for the better. According to the study, “researchers saw an increase in the accuracy of brush strokes, an increase in a number of strokes and an overall 8 percent improvement in tooth-brushing skill.” 
The study further concludes that by recording a selfie, it makes the person more aware of their brushing habits, disrupting ingrained bad habits and helping the brain create new muscle memory and formation. Simply put, it allows the brain the opportunity to implement a behavior change by forcing the person to be engaged in what they are doing, taking them off of autopilot.
Proper tooth-brushing is no doubt an integral piece of the dental puzzle, and while video selfies are helping people improve their technique, it’s no substitute for regular dental visits. Dental professionals are still the most equipped to answers any questions about oral health and are trained to identify dental issues that may arise from improper brushings, such as weakened tooth enamel or eroding gums.
“We encourage preventive visits at least every six months and more often if you have periodontal disease,” Caracioni said. “During these regular visits, we check for any dental problems and educate you about how to keep your teeth healthy.”