There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Since tooth position and gum condition vary, patients are advised to check with their dentist to determine which is the best one for them.
What is the correct technique of tooth brushing?
In case of any doubt consult your dentist as to the correct way of brushing.
- On the outer and inner surfaces, brush at a 45-degree angle in short, half-tooth-wide strokes against the gum line. (Refer Figure 1)
- On chewing surfaces, hold the brush flat and brush back and forth. (Refer Figure 2)
- On inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt brush vertically and use gentle up and down strokes. (Refer Figure 3)
- Brush the tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove food particles and freshen your mouth.
What happens if I brush my teeth incorrectly?
Incorrect brushing, such as using a back and forth motion, can cause the gum surface to recede. It can also expose the root surface and cause it to wear away. You also risk receding the gum line.
How often should I brush/floss my teeth? What is a good hygiene regime?
Brushing and flossing should be done at least twice daily - morning and night. The following regime is convenient and can be used as a guide line:
- Pre-rinse with a mouthwash such as Plax
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste (your choice) for at least 2 minutes using the technique described earlier. Rinse with water and then brush your tongue gently with the toothbrush. Rinse again with water.
- Floss your teeth as discussed elsewhere.
- Rinse again using either a mouthwash or water.
At what age should I start brushing my children's teeth?
It is very important for a baby to learn good dental habits early. But remember it is just as important to make brushing teeth fun as it is to get them 100% clean.
As soon as the baby permits, start cleaning his/her mouth with a piece of gauze wrapped on your finger. This gets the child used to the idea of oral hygiene at a very early age.
For babies and toddlers a special baby toothbrush is recommended. It should have very soft and rounded bristles that will not irritate baby's soft gums, a small oval head to easily reach all areas of baby's mouth and a long handle so you can help with brushing.
From around 3 years of age it is time to start using a children's or junior toothbrush. A good children's toothbrush will have a small oval head, soft and rounded bristles and a long handle. You should still help with tooth brushing because it's not until a child is about 10 years that he has sufficient fine motor control to brush alone.
Teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least two minutes each time. You should also introduce your child to dental floss early so they become proficient at cleaning the areas in between teeth where plaque builds up.
What toothbrush do you recommend?
In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1" by 1/2") for easy access. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp. It should have soft, nylon bristles with round ends. Some brushes are too abrasive and can wear down teeth. A soft, rounded, multi-tufted brush can clean teeth effectively. Press just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Medium and hard bristles are not recommended.
How often should I change my toothbrush?
You should change your tooth brush at least once every 2-3 months.
Are electric toothbrushes effective?
Using an electric rotary toothbrush is far more efficient and effective in overall plaque removal and massaging of the gums. The one we recommend is the Braun Oral B Ultra.
What is flossing?
Flossing is the use of a fine, thread like material to cleanse between the teeth. It removes plaque in places a toothbrush can't reach easily, such as under the gum line and between the teeth.
There are two types of floss: waxed and unwaxed flosses. As both are equally effective, you can use whichever you prefer.
What is the proper way to use floss?
To make sure you floss all your teeth, start behind the upper molars at one side of your mouth and work to the other side. Repeat on the lower teeth.
Take about 18" of floss and wrap most of it around one of your middle fingers and the rest around the middle finger of your other hand, leaving a 2" length in-between.
Ease floss between teeth. Using your thumbs and forefingers, gently slide the floss between two teeth, curving it around each tooth at the gum line, and move it up and down against each tooth and between the tooth and gum.
Clean up and down several times while around teeth. Do Not Scrub. Take care not to push the floss against the gums as this will cause gum damage. Always floss behind the last tooth. Unwind clean floss as you proceed.
You may experience sore or bleeding gums for the first several days you floss. If bleeding continues after the first week of flossing call your dentist. If you have trouble handling the floss, ask your dentist to show you how.