A Dentist’s Advice: How to Brush Correctly

Most of us are taught how to brush our teeth by our parents.  But who taught them? It’s just one of those things that we all do every day without thinking much about it.

Unfortunately, as a dentist just about every patient I see in my dental office is not brushing their teeth correctly.  They may be brushing their teeth 3 times a day, but it doesn’t matter how often they do it if it is not being done the right way!

It’s a bit like washing your car 3 times a week – if you’re not doing it the right way, your car is never really clean, and it just goes different degrees of “dirty.”

The first thing to do is set aside fifteen minutes at some point in your day.  This is the time you are going to need to clean your teeth properly. You will also need a good toothbrush. I recommend an electric toothbrush, but some people prefer a manual brush.  That’s OK; it just takes a little longer! You can read this review of the best toothbrushes.  For example, one toothbrush I have found to be great is the Sonicare for kids toothbrush.

The whole point of brushing is to get the bacteria off your teeth. This film of bacteria is called dental plaque. But there are 2 problems with dental plaque – it is tooth-colored, so it’s hard to see, and it is quite sticky, so it takes a bit of gentle scrubbing to get it off the teeth. This is why you need to spend at least 5 minutes brushing!

The best technique is to use a very slow, gentle scrubbing action all along the gum edges. The edge of your gum, where it meets the tooth, is ALWAYS where plaque builds. So that’s where you have to work with your brush.  Also, you have to brush the gums edges on the insides of your teeth. That means along the gum edge next to the roof of your mouth and next to your tongue. Go really slow. Give the bristles time to flex in and around the gums. 

Because plaque is tooth-colored, it’s really hard to see if you’ve got your teeth clean. I think the best way to check your brushing technique is to chew a “disclosing tablet” afterwards. It’s a tablet containing a vegetable dye that stains any plaque left behind. So if you see any bits of color on your teeth after chewing the tablet pick up your brush and have another go until there’s no stain left! That’s another 5 minutes.

Finally, you should spend about 5 minutes using a dental floss to clean between your teeth, where the toothbrush doesn’t reach. Actually, I recommend dental tape, which is a flattened type of floss. I find it slips between the teeth much more easily than normal floss and doesn’t snag as much.  One tip when using dental tape is to gently slide it under the gum edge a little bit as you clean between the teeth.  Bacteria collect under the gum and dental tape is ideal for removing it.   Once you’ve flossed every tooth, you’re done!

You can read more from Dr. Richard Mitchell on his website www.dental-health-advice.com.

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