Know Your Brush

Happening Issue 70 Jul, 2010

A very common phrase we dentists hear is “I brush two times a day regularly but how come I still have plaque and calculus.”  Well, obviously there is something wrong with the way they brush or the kind of brush they use. Then we end up telling the story of the right way to brush again and again. Here we go again.

What is the right way to brush?
We all learn the skills of brushing and flossing at an early age. The proper way of brushing teeth takes less than 2 minutes to complete, however a lot of people spend more or less time brushing. Most adults in the world spend less than a minute brushing, which is not enough time to get a proper cleaning. To get accustomed to the right amount of brush time you should use a stop watch at first.
Avoid using pressure when brushing; instead use swift gentle strokes on the tooth surface. You should remember to focus on the hard to reach places, and make sure you always brush the areas between the teeth. Also always make sure that you get your chewing surfaces, as well as your upper and lower gums. If you use this checklist, you will get all of your mouth, and come away with a thorough clean in just about two minutes.

How important is the toothpaste I use?

Using proper brushing techniques is only part of the whole equation; tooth paste choice comes into play as well. There are many varieties of toothpastes available, each designed for a specific purpose. There are toothpastes that are made to fight tartar and plaque, to combat sensitivity, and even help with gum disease and gingivitis. Using the correct toothpaste is the best way to prevent problems, so you should always consult with your d
entist to see what they would recommend for you.

What type of toothbrush should I use?
The type of toothbrush you use is also an important factor. Toothbrushes, like toothpastes, come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors making picking one difficult. When you do decide on a toothbrush you like, make sure that the bristles are soft. Soft bristles remove plague and tartar from your teeth, and are soft enough to use on your gums. A smaller sized toothbrush head is also nice, because it can reach further into the hard to reach areas of the mouth.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?
Remember to replace your toothbrush at least once every couple of months, or when the brush begins showing signs of wear and tear. If you have just gotten over a cold, replace your toothbrush, because the brush bristles can contain germs, and using the contaminated brush could get you sick again. Worn out toothbrushes should always be replaced, because they can affect your gums. If the bristles wear down, they can tear into your gum’s outer surface, causing painful sensitivity.

To get the most out of brushing, use common sense and advice from your family dentist. Regular brushing of your teeth, and overall good oral hygiene, will help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Although regular brushing does help, it’s no replacement for dental checkups. If you just take a few minutes out of your day to properly care for your teeth, you will save yourself hours of time and pain.