Are you brushing your teeth properly?
We learn how to brush our teeth in our infancy – we’re taught by our parents, who were taught by their parents – and, for most of us, that never changes. But have we learned the right way? Or has technology changed what we once knew? Our Expert in Residence, Gulshan Dhanoya, sets the record straight
In Partnership with Honour Health
HOW SHOULD WE BRUSH OUR TEETH?
Bear in mind that brushing your teeth too roughly or for too long can actually damage your enamel, so brush carefully. Recession cavities can be caused by over-brushing with a manual toothbrush.
Move your toothbrush in circular motions around the outer, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, including hard-to-reach areas. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to clean the gum line effectively. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too!
I’d recommend using an electric toothbrush for the most thorough clean. Electric toothbrushes already move in a circular motion, so you just have to guide it carefully around your mouth. It also includes a timer to help you keep track of how long you’re brushing for, and a sensor to let you know if you’re brushing too hard. Change your toothbrush – or toothbrush head – every three months.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE BRUSH OUR TEETH?
You should brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste.
WHAT ABOUT FLOSSING?
Make sure you floss once a day to help remove food and plaque from hard-to-reach areas between your teeth.
Break off about 45cm of floss and wind it around one finger of each hand. Hold it tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, with about 2.5cm of floss between them. Glide the floss between your teeth and curve it into a C shape when it reaches your gumline. Hold the floss against the tooth and gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Work your way across your teeth, not forgetting the back of your last tooth.
I recommend using Tepe brushes between teeth. These look like little pipe cleaners and come in different sizes. They’re very effective and remove debris and plaque from below the contact point of your teeth. It’s also essential that you see your hygienist regularly, who can advise which size Tepes are recommended.
DOES IT MATTER WHEN WE BRUSH OUR TEETH?
Make sure you brush before bed, and at one other time during the day.
It’s really important to brush your teeth before you go to bed. During the day, food leaves debris on your teeth that feed bacteria. Usually, saliva helps defend your mouth against this bacteria, but the problem is that saliva production decreases at night. If you don’t brush your teeth before bed, bacteria is free to attack your teeth for hours on end while you’re sleeping. Nightmare!
AND SHOULD WE AVOID ANY FOOD OR DRINKS BEFORE OR AFTER BRUSHING?
You should leave at least half an hour after eating or drinking anything (apart from water) before you brush your teeth. If you brush too soon, this can harm your enamel, which will have been softened by acid attacks while you eat or drink. If possible, avoid highly acidic or sugary foods or drinks, as they cause the most damage to your teeth.
After brushing your teeth, don’t rinse your mouth with water, as this will wash away fluoride. It’s important to leave fluoride on your teeth for as long as possible to provide the best protection. Try to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least half an hour after brushing.
For further information about Honour Health, or to make an appointment at one of Honour Health’s dental clinics (In Jesmond, Ponteland or Stanley), visit their site here