If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to how you brush your teeth, beyond squirting on some toothpaste and scrubbing back and forth. But as your dentist will tell you, how you brush your teeth can matter a great deal. How often you brush, how long you brush for, your brushing technique and the toothbrush you choose can each influence the effectiveness of your brushing.
To gain the maximum benefit from brushing, you should brush for two minutes morning and night, using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head and a flexible neck.
It’s all in the technique
You should clean your teeth systematically, starting at the back of your mouth with the toothbrush bristle at the gum line on a 45° angle, brushing gently in a circular motion. If you scrub too hard from side to side, you can run the risk of causing your gums to recede, as well as damaging the white tooth enamel. You should take care to brush carefully along the inner, outer and chewing surfaces, making sure you tip the toothbrush so you can reach the inner front areas of the teeth, which are often missed.
And yes, while it may seem strange at first to brush your tongue, doing so can reduce bacteria in your mouth, in turn helping with bad breath, officially known as halitosis or oral malodour . You should use the toothbrush bristles to gently scrape in a forward motion. When you have finished brushing, spit out the excess toothpaste and do not rinse with water. Leaving the toothpaste residue on your teeth is a really great way to give your teeth some extra ongoing protection.
Tools of the trade
If limited dexterity is an issue, you might consider using a powered or three-sided toothbrush. Some electric toothbrushes come with an in-built two-minute timer, which makes sticking to the correct length of brushing time easy. If you’re not sure which type of brush will work for you or your family, your dentist can help you.
Tempting as it is to think that pressing harder on your teeth equals a better clean, the fact is that too much pressure can damage your gums and tooth enamel. If the bristles are wearing out on your toothbrush well before the three-month mark, you’re pressing too hard and your dentist can provide you with tips on how to avoid this. It’s also a good idea to replace your toothbrush when the bristles start to spread beyond the width of the base of the brush, after you been sick, or every three months, whichever comes first.
– Australian Dental Association “Brushing”