Hi, I’m Hannah Colantoni, Oral Health Therapist at Kingston Beach Dental.
Why do we brush our teeth? There are many reasons, such as, fresh breath, keeping our pearly whites sparkling, but mainly to keep them healthy, so we can chew our food, help with speech and of course minimise the risk of decay and an awful toothache!
Brushing our teeth twice a day (morning and night!) with fluoridated toothpaste for 2 minutes, removes the nasty bacteria that causes demineralisation of our teeth causing holes. But how do we really brush our teeth to be effective at removing all of these bacteria that hold plaque?
Brushing your teeth sounds like a simple and easy task, doesn’t it? However, if not done correctly it can cause problems such as receding gums and wear on the necks of teeth ( this is called tooth brush abrasion). This can be problematic for tooth sensitivity and weakening of the tooth. So, on that note lets discuss the correct technique. If you don’t brush enough bacteria and plaque build up on the teeth and cause tooth decay.
Hannah’s Hot Toothbrushing tips:
1. Technique and time are the important things.
2. Use a tooth brush with soft bristles. Evidence shows it cleans the teeth just as well as medium or hard bristle brushes (which are not recommended due to risk of wear).
3. Angle the toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gum line.
4. Gentle but thorough, circular motion is used. Not a scrubbing action as this can increase risk of gum recession, tooth sensitivity and tooth brush abrasion.
5. Always start in the same spot and use a systematic approach. For example upper right-hand side cheek surface, then biting surface and inside surface and continuing around the rest of the mouth.
6. It is recommended to brush for 2 minutes, so a minimum of 30 seconds per side of the mouth. You might like to brush along to your favourite song or use a timer.
7. Brushing your tongue is important as well as lots of bacteria can be present. Gentle brushing from the back of tongue to the front is advised.
8. Finally, an important point is to NOT rinse out the fluoridated toothpaste after brushing. Leaving toothpaste present in the mouth especially when going to bed helps protect them from any bacteria still present.
MANUAL VS ELECTRIC? You might wonder whether electric or manual toothbrushes are better. From my point of view this is subject to each individual. Feel free to ask your oral health practitioner when having a check up to help you to make a decision.
Manual toothbrushes are great as they easily portable, light weight and come in many sizes and colours. This is handy when we have children who have little mouths and teeth! However manual toothbrushes are more technique sensitive for an effective 2 minutes of cleaning.
Electric toothbrushes are great for multiple reasons, but for me the main 3 are;
1. Less technique sensitive as it is just about placement on all surfaces of the teeth and the brush is spinning (the circular motion we would like).
2. They time you and let you know if you are pushing too hard!
3. They have a larger handle which helps with dexterity issues (for example arthritis in the hands).
Sometimes electric toothbrushes aren’t tolerated as patients don’t like the “buzzy” feeling. It comes down to the individual and how well they are able to clean with the toothbrush of choice!
Hannah in the hot seat: Just before I finish up this post on brushing I thought I would mention a couple of other points I get asked:
1. How often should I change my toothbrush? I always say approximately every 3 months. But I also say if you have had a cold within this time to change your toothbrush once you are feeling better as they can harbour lots of bacteria.
2. Why are the bristles on my toothbrush splaying so quickly? This is due to being a bit too heavy-handed when brushing. We need to look at the technique, and remind ourselves gentle but thorough, circular not scrubbing motion and not too much pressure. I’ve mentioned to some of my patients to try holding their toothbrush in a “pen grip” which means you can’t push as hard, or to start considering an electric toothbrush.
Anywho, I think that is enough on toothbrushing for today! Happy gentle but thorough brushing of your pearly whites!
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