Oral hygiene: brushing your teeth
Below is a guide to the correct techniques and best practices when brushing your teeth, and tips on how to choose the right toothbrush. For information on cleaning the surfaces between your teeth, read our guides to flossing and interdental brushing with proximal brushes and Tepe.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, as plaque formation begins four to 12 hours after brushing.
- Use a toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
- Try to brush after every meal and snack.
- Replace toothbrushes every three months.
- Select toothbrushes with soft, nylon, rounded bristles. The size and shape should be such that it can easily reach all tooth surfaces. Avoid the use of hard toothbrushes.
- If you have difficulty holding a toothbrush, you can modify the toothbrush handle by inserting it into a rubber ball for easier gripping.
- Brush gently, as brushing with force can result in abrasions in the tooth enamel or dentin, causing tooth sensitivity problems.
Proper brushing techniques
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line, the point where the teeth and the gums meet, and move it towards the edge of teeth in order to move the dental plaque away from the gum line.
- Repeat for the outer surface of each tooth, moving the brush back and forth gently using short strokes. Give special attention to the molars.
- Follow the same routine for the inside surface of each tooth.
- Use the same gentle back and forth brush strokes horizontally for the chewing surfaces of each tooth.
- Next brush your tongue to remove the bacteria that cause bad breath. Alternatively, you can use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue.
- Brush the roof of your mouth, especially rewarding if you have a bad breath problem.
- Finally, spit out the remaining toothpaste and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. You can also follow it up with mouthwash.
- A proper brushing routine will last from 2 to 3 minutes.
Choosing a toothbrush
Choose a toothbrush that has the following features:
- Head size that feels comfortable in your mouth and that reaches the back teeth easily.
- Anatomic grip facilitating proper tooth-brushing moves.
- Head design that facilitates efficient cleaning of all the teeth surfaces.
- Nylon bristles, as they last longer than natural bristles.
- Rounded end bristles to prevent damage to the gums.
- As specified by your dentist, is specific to your needs, mouth shape and dental problems.
If you feel overwhelmed by these deciding factors, always go for the safest choice - a soft toothbrush.
Since kids have tender gums that can be easily damaged, special care must be taken when selecting a toothbrush for them. The brushes must have the following features:
- Small head size.
- Soft bristles.
- Large and anatomic grip.
- Flexible neck material – this helps to absorb excessive brushing pressure.
- Attractive design and colours – can make brushing a pleasurable activity for the child.
In case of infants below the age of two, use a special infant toothbrush that fits over your finger to clean their teeth. Consult a paediatric dentist before buying an infant electric toothbrush.
When should I change my toothbrush?
As a result of constant use, the bristles of the brush wear out over time, cannot facilitate adequate cleaning and may also cause injury. Hence, you should ideally change your toothbrush under the following conditions:
- Change the brush every 3-4 months. In the case of children’s toothbrushes, they have to be changed more often as they tend to wear out quickly.
- Once the bristles begin to lose their natural position.
- After a cold or flu.
Storing your toothbrush
In order to keep your toothbrush in good shape and make it last longer, make sure to follow the instructions below after every brushing:
- Wash and rinse the toothbrush well, ensuring that you remove any remaining toothpaste, food debris and bacteria.
- Store it in well-ventilated area, keeping it in an upright position. This helps in drying the toothbrush
- Never cover the toothbrush head or put it in a closet before it dries completely as any moisture retained as a result will help in the growth of bacteria.
- Avoid storing the toothbrush in the same holder with another person's brush, and if unavoidable, make sure to keep them well apart to prevent cross-contamination.