Tooth brushing is a habit, hopefully formed in childhood, but as adults we have many different versions of the same thing: some people brush once a day, some twice, some at night and some only in the morning, some too hard, some too soft, some with an electric toothbrush, others with a manual toothbrush. So, what are some simple things that can make us all better tooth-brushers. In this article Ask The Dentist – Australia will look at some of the common pitfalls associated with tooth-brushing techniques.
Tooth brushing mistake #1
Choosing the wrong kind of tooth-brush
Colgate, Oral B, Macleans all sell a range of different toothbrushes in an attempt to corner the tooth-brushing market, not necessarily because they are all made equally. Things to consider when choosing the right toothbrush include the size of the head, size of the handle and the type of bristles.
The size of the head of the toothbrush should be small, even for people with big beautiful mouths! A small head enables better cleaning all round particularly behind the back top teeth and inside the lower teeth.
The handle on the toothbrush needs to be able to gripped easily, not to thin and not too thick. Just right.
Finally the bristles should be soft or softer, people who have used, or do use medium or hard toothbrushes will swear by them, saying the soft ones don’t do a good enough job. Picture your brand new non-stick frying pan being cleaned by a well-intentioned guest. They are using steel wool and then they exclaim how shiny it now is. That’s similar to what is happening to your teeth using hard bristles, they are wearing away the enamel, albeit a tad more slowly.
Manual or electric? Really it is a personal preference. The lazier you are, the better you will generally do with an electric toothbrush as it does some of the work for you, but otherwise they both can be equally effective.
Tooth brushing mistake #2
Not brushing enough
This may seem like a no brainer, but for the number of people complaining about the cost of seeing the dentist there is a proportionately large amount of people not brushing their teeth twice a day. The other problem is that 15- 30 seconds won’t do the trick, it takes 2 minutes, even for dentists. Probably 4 minutes for hygienists – joke!!
Tooth brushing mistake #3
Brushing too aggressively
Referring to my earlier analogy about the new non-stick fry pan and the steel wool. You are not trying to remove the enamel from your teeth in one manic, stress relieving tooth-brushing session. You may have had a bad day at work, but it’s not your teeth’s fault. Slow and gentle does it. You are trying to make your teeth’s enamel last a lifetime, which if brushed twice a day, should mean roughly over 56,210 brushes for the average Australian. Go easy because you don’t want to run this race too quickly, once the enamel is worn away the teeth become sensitive and the enamel will usually need to be replaced with porcelain veneers. This can be time consuming and expensive.
Tooth brushing mistake #4
Poor tooth-brushing technique is like washing your feet and missing in between your toes; the difficult to get to, smelly bits. When you are brushing your teeth the majority of the time needs to be spent around where the tooth meets the gums meet. Preferably with the bristles angled into the gums at a 45° and in small circles. To clean in-between the teeth you need to use floss, but that is a whole other post. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been brushing, it is always good to re-visit your technique.
Tooth brushing mistake #5
Not changing your tooth brush regularly enough
Not that I should admit this, but this is the one I probably fall foul of myself, mostly because I never make shopping lists. Toothbrushes need to be replaced about every 3-4 months, earlier if you are one of those aforementioned manic brushers. As the bristles become splayed their ability to get into the crevices, particularly near the gum (if that is where you are targeting) is significantly reduced. Visual inspection will give you most of the clues you need. If it can be confused for the one that you use to clean the shower then it is time to get a new one.
How did you go? Did we make the grade?
I know I could improve on some of these myself, and unfortunately life and work often gets in the way of taking the time to brush your teeth thoroughly and effectively. If you are the person that always needs work done when you go the dentist; or you gums bleed when you brush, taking some pointers from the list above. It may save you time, money and grief down the track.