The Correct Way Toothbrushing
What's the best toothbrush? The brand is not as important as the size and texture of the brush. You should always choose a soft or ultra soft toothbrush with rounded bristle ends. The brush head shouldn't be too big for your mouth. It is difficult to reach all the places where plaque hides with a large brush. Look for compact sizes, they have smaller brush heads but the handles are for adults.
Replace your toothbrush on a regular basis, every two to three months or when you notice the bristles fraying. Toothbrushes with fraying bristles won't clean as well and they can irritate the gums. Children are likely to wear out toothbrushes more quickly because their brushing strokes are not yet perfected and they have a tendency to chew on the bristles. Parents should keep a close eye on their children's brushes.
Toothbrushes should be allowed to air-dry between uses. If you brush frequently, alternating between toothbrushes is recommend.
How often should you brush?
If you are healthy and free of periodontal disease, two to three times a day should be adequate. In the morning after breakfast and before bed are the most important times to brush. Try to schedule additional brushings around meals.
If you have a form of periodontal disease, increased brushing is necessary. I usually recommend a minimum of three times and up to five times per day. Controlling plaque is a tough business. Many of my patients keep a toothbrush at work to make mid-day brushing convenient. The key is to make your routine as uncomplicated as possible.
The optimum amount of time to brush is two minutes. Two of your daily tooth-brushings should be for two minutes and supplement with shorter brushing times if necessary. If you time yourself the next time you brush, you might be surprised how quickly you go.
What is the best brushing technique?
Since everyone's mouth is different, individual instruction given by your dentist or dental hygienist is essential. Unless you use a proper technique, you can brush five times a day and still not get your teeth clean. There are some basic techniques to follow in proper tooth-brushing:
- Focus your soft bristled toothbrush at the gumline. This is where plaque hides.
- Begin by placing the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle on the outside of your teeth (cheek side) where the gums and teeth meet.
- Move the brush in a circular motion brushing two to three teeth at a time.
- Use light pressure so the bristles glide gently between the teeth.
- The same method is used on the inside (tongue side) surfaces of the back teeth.
- To brush the inside of the front teeth, hold the brush vertically using a back-and-forth motion.
- Then move to the biting surfaces using the same back-and-forth motion.
- Finish by brushing your tongue.
- Bacteria that forms on your tongue, especially on the base (back), can cause mouth odor. Start at the tip and work your way back down the middle, then each side. Special tongue cleaning devices are sold, but your brush is adequate.
Parents will need to assist their children until they are about five years old. Their small motor skills are still developing and it is impossible for them to be effective alone. I recommend that children be allowed to brush alone first, then parents should brush them again.