Are You Sure You are Brushing Your Teeth Correctly? Most of Us Were Not Taught!

At Pelican Landing Dental, we are thrilled to have a blog on our new website. This allows us a great venue to discuss current topics in oral health and dentistry. We believe that education is an integral part of our goal; healthy teeth and gums for life for all of our patients! Today we would like to discuss brushing techniques. We hope that you learn something. We welcome questions at any time.

Why is Optimal Brushing Technique Important?

In dentistry, we attempt to back everything that we do and believe with relevant research. What this means is that we have ample studies to look to in nearly every segment of dentistry when making decisions. If we look to the research, we find that we see relatively significant differences in the results between those that brush properly and those that don’t.

Does a little bit of plaque or debris left on or between teeth really matter? After all, if it doesn’t then this entire discussion is irrelevant. To answer this, we can look at what can happen if areas are missed. First, we need to look at plaque. Plaque is the soft buildup that can be found on the teeth, in between the teeth, and between the teeth and gums. If areas of plaque are missed we see saliva, food, and drink now have the ability to provide the plaque with minerals. These minerals harden the structure of the plaque which eventually results in the formation of calculus. Calculus (known to many as tartar) cannot be removed with normal brushing and flossing.

Our immune system recognizes calculus as a problem and will fight it. This fight will continue and the body is unable to eliminate the calculus. The result is an inflammatory response that begins with gingivitis and can eventually lead to periodontitis and the loss of teeth. This is not simply an illustration but rather the results that we see every day in dentistry.

How to Brush

If you are like us, you learned how to brush from parents who learned from parents and so on. Rarely was someone trained how to properly brush their teeth by a trained dental professional. Below we will discuss a few different tips and techniques to help you get the most out of your two minutes two times per day.

The Angle

Perhaps the most beneficial alteration to most people’s technique can be a change in angle in which the toothbrush contacts the tooth. Most of us have been taught to aim the toothbrush directly at the teeth. The problem with this technique is that it is vital to reach between the teeth and the gums to properly clean. When aiming the brush in this direction, we rely on the splaying of the bristles to reach in this area. This not only does not adequately clean but it also slowly renders the toothbrush ineffective. The photo to the right shows the typical look of the toothbrush when using this technique.

The most effective way to angle the brush is at 45 degrees between the teeth and gums. This allows the bristles to go the maximum distance into the pocket and provide the optimum cleanse.

The Motion

Back and forth, up and down, circles??? We are often asked what is the most effective motion. Understanding the proper angle of the toothbrush should lead us to believe that the “up and down” method is not as effective as the others. The studies confirm this. What has been found is that the small circle method proves to be the most effective for plaque removal.

How Long Should You Brush?

What is interesting is that the angle, motion, type of toothbrush, type of toothpaste, and all of the other aspects of brushing have not been shown to be as important as the time spent brushing. Two minutes two times per day has been shown to be the gold standard. Why is the time so important? Likely it is just the increased probability of hitting every surface from the increased number of strokes.

We welcome new patients and questions at any time. Feel free to visit our website for more information, click here to contact us, or call us at (239)449-6104.