Brushing your teeth is the single most important activity, which can maintain your teeth healthy and save your money. The main objective in carrying out oral hygiene (term for cleanliness in the mouth ) procedures is to remove bacterial plaque (thin film of bacteria) from the teeth. The most important reason for establishing good plaque control is to prevent and treat gum disease and dental cavities.
Most people brush their teeth for social reasons - they want 'fresh breath' and white teeth. We can use these reasons to help motivate people, but at the same time, we must educate them so that they understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
This is still the most important method of cleaning the teeth available but it will not clean the areas in between the teeth so efficiently.
Natural hog bristles were used in earlier times but now nylon is used almost universally for making of the toothbrushes
Head should be trimmed flat and level, i.e. all tufts same length. Serrated trim does not appear to be more effective. Diamond shaped head have better reach to the backside teeth.
Length of head
Most people find a short head more convenient but in studies conducted it has been not found to be superior to long head. But short head brushes are more effective for people having difficulty in cleaning back teeth.
You need not alter your brushing method unless there is evidence of inefficiency or of damage to the teeth or gums. If you have problems your dentist can observe and advice changes in your brushing technique.
Thorough cleaning once a day should normally be adequate it is better and more efficient to brush at least twice. Timings are after breakfast and after dinner which keeps your teeth clean from all food particles.
No rule can be laid down. There is a great individual variation in speed and efficiency. The criterion is to brush until all surfaces are cleaned. Average timing could be 3-5 minutes.
Many people miss large sections of tooth surface and gums, which can lead to disease. It is better to follow an order from one to other side of the mouth so that all areas will be always covered.
Methods of Brushing
Basically there are two movements - sweeping and penetrating. A reversal of direction of motion of the brush whilst under pressure results in a penetrating movement. Some penetration into the areas between two teeth is always essential; penetration into the gum crevice is also necessary occasionally.
Horizontal (Mixed sweeping and penetrating)
This is a natural technique for children to use, However, of short strokes and a soft brush are used, so that the effect is principally penetrating rather than sweeping, it is acceptable and effective, especially on the inside surfaces.
Standard method advised is to keep the bristles at 45 degrees and move in back and forth direction or rotate is from gums to teeth side. These methods need demonstration by a dentist and people who find it difficult to practice, can use circular motion also. In any case horizontal strokes as commonly used are harmful.
Common Errors in Brushing
Not pressing hard enough so that insufficient penetration occurs between the teeth.
Not holding the brush flat against the surface of the teeth and gums, resulting in inefficiency and in increasing wear on the 'heel' or 'toe' of the brush head.
Leaving areas untouched.
Dangers of Incorrect Brushing
Recession of gum margin. Hard or extra brushes should not be used. Hard brushes lead to wear of teeth and lead to sensation to cold liquids. Also you should not brush immediately after consuming acidic drinks (lemon juice), it wears the tooth faster.
There are other methods to assist cleaning of teeth, (particularly in gum disease) we shall discuss them in our future article.
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