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Published on: September 22, 2014
The point of brushing your teeth is to remove plaque. It is usually enough to brush your teeth twice a day if you use the right technique.Always start brushing at the same place and proceed in the same order. That way, you do not miss any areas out. Brush all of the surfaces of the teeth. This means both sides and top of the molars and the two sides of the front teeth. For the spaces in between teeth, you need something other than a toothbrush, such as an interdental brush or dental floss.
The right way to brush your teeth
Start with the upper right teeth. Clean the outer sides of the teeth with the brush lying partly on the gum, and never back and forwards in a horizontal motion. Go along the teeth, brushing in a circular pattern, and try to brush the deposit out from the edge of the gum. Don’t hold the brush too tightly, but use delicate, sustained movements. Do not use a hard-bristled brush, which damages the gums and can even wear down the teeth. Tartar tends to build up most around the sixth and seventh teeth, so pay particular attention in this area. At the end, the teeth should feel smooth to the point of your tongue.
Move on to the chewing surfaces. Brush these thoroughly with horizontal movements. Make sure you do not leave out the back surface of the back tooth: to reach it, set the brush vertically.
Clean the inner surface of the top teeth with a similar circular movement, with the brush lying on the gum.
Clean the outer area of the top front teeth holding the toothbrush horizontally and make circular movements, again not brushing horizontally. Turn the toothbrush to the vertical position to get at the inner surface.
Go round the top left teeth in the same way. The same principles also apply to the lower teeth. Lift the toothbrush to the vertical position to get at the back surface of the back teeth. The most tartar builds up on the inner surface of the lower incisors, and so brush them very thoroughly holding the toothbrush vertically.
A mouthwash can be a useful complement, but it does not substitute for mechanical cleaning. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to recommend a product for you.
If you are uncertain about how effectively you are brushing your teeth, buy a revealing tablet from a pharmacy. Chew a tablet after you brush your teeth. Any plaque remaining will turn a strong colour, showing up the areas where you will have to pay more attention. If you have iodine sensitivity, ask the pharmacist for an iodine-free version.
If your manual dexterity is not good enough or you are still uncertain about your tooth-brushing technique, you might benefit from using an electric toothbrush if your dentist recommends it.
Both a manual toothbrush and the head of an electric toothbrush have to be replaced every three months. That is because during this time, the bristles wear down and bacteria grow on them.
Always use a fluoride-containing toothpaste unless you have medical advice to the contrary. This helps to prevent cavities and inhibits the metabolism of bacteria.
Do not clean your tongue with your toothbrush. The back of the tongue is home to different kinds of bacteria, and it is not advisable to spread this flora on to the teeth and gums. Use a dedicated tongue scraper. This also helps to combat bad breath.
If you experience bleeding gums while you brush your teeth, do not commit the common mistake of brushing more carefully. What you are doing with the toothbrush is removing the plaque which causes inflammation, and mouthwash and toothpaste do not do this. Visit your dentist, who will decide whether you need to have the tartar removed from your teeth. In our surgery, you will receive professional oral hygiene treatment and personalized advice.
Choosing the right toothbrush
Choose a brush with medium or soft bristles. Hard-bristled toothbrushes have no useful function and cause more trouble than they solve.
The toothbrush should have a small head and the bristles should have rounded tips.
Rubber bristles and pads do not remove plaque effectively. They tend to give the feeling that you have brushed your teeth thoroughly even if this is not definitely the case.
The toothbrush should have dense, closely-packed bristles.