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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Properly?

Dr. Vincent Wan


Effective toothbrushing is easier said than done.  So how do we make sure we are brushing our teeth effectively?

First of all let’s make sure we have the appropriate tools for the job.  Make sure you are using a toothbrush with very soft bristles, a small head, flexible neck and comfortable handle.  Make sure you are using a toothpaste that contains mild detergents and fluoride.  The brand and cost of the toothbrush and toothpaste doesn’t matter as long as these requirements are satisfied.

The next thing is making sure we are using these tools effectively.  Make sure you are gentle with the toothbrush.  If you are brushing twice a day, food debris and plaque will come away very easily with gentle brushing.  You do not need to scrub your teeth like you are scrubbing off something hard and crusted over on your kitchen bench.  If you have hard calculus on your teeth, you will not be able to remove this by brushing.  Leave the hard work to your dentist and their ultrasonic instrument at your 6 monthly check-up and clean appointment.  Only your dentist can remove hard calculus.

Avoid brushing aggressively, especially with a hard scrubbing action, unless you are brushing the biting surfaces of your teeth.  When brushing the sides of the your teeth, angle your toothbrush at 45 degrees towards your gumline and brush in a circular motion.  This helps flick food debris and plaque away from the gumline.  It is also more gentle to your gums than horizontal or vertical strokes as you only touch the gums once every 360 degrees and the circular motion is less forceful.

Make sure you are brushing for 2 minutes so you give enough attention to every tooth surface.  Don’t forget to brush your tongue with one stroke from the back to the front after your teeth.  Your tongue can trap food particles and plaque too.  It is now recommended to not rinse your mouth with water after brushing to leave protective fluoride from toothpaste over the teeth longer.

You should brush your teeth twice a day.  You should brush after you eat not before so you can clean food particles away as well as plaque.  You should also brush before you floss.  Think of brushing as the bulk of the cleaning and flossing as doing the fine detail.