That you need to brush your teeth frequently is a known fact. But besides making sure you brush twice a day, you must also make sure you are using proper oral hygiene technique. Everyone learns the “best” technique from their parents, or a dentist shows them how to do it, or you see it on TV or on the internet. But do you really have the best technique? Statistics show that opinions on what the proper way to brush teeth is differ widely. This is not just a trivial detail, as the basis of keeping your mouth clean rests on your at home oral hygiene routine. Even if we are not ignorant in this matter, who can we turn to for guidance, and for good advice on technique?
Is there any unified opinion?
The opinions of manufacturers, dentists and associations about how to brush your teeth properly are frequently contradictory, says the British Dental Journal, an esteemed dental periodical. The UCL (University College of London) gathered some oral health guidelines- many of them lifted from college textbooks, information form dental associations, and the publications of dental equipment manufacturers, from 10 different countries. The opinions and advice not only differed tremendously, it also contradicted each other. Because they could not find any universally acclaimed stand point, they knew that they were dealing with a massive, global problem.
Aubrey Sheiham, the professor leading the research said- “People need reliable information on proper tooth brushing technique. If they hear opinions that differ from each other, or even contradict each other from manufacturers, dentists and oral health professionals, they will become confused, and they will have no idea at all on how best to brush their teeth. Our study showed unacceptable contradictions between sources.” He also added that these sources need to be consistent and provide the best method for brushing your teeth.
So which is the best, and why?
A newer technique says that by bouncing the toothbrush gently, you can break up and remove plaque and food detritus, but there is no evidence to back up that this technique is somehow better than any other tooth brushing technique. Professor Sheham says that the toothbrush should be at a 45 degree angle, and you should brush using gentle, vertical strokes to clean the tooth surfaces. If you grip your toothbrush you exert too much force so it is better to hold the toothbrush in your fingertips, like a pen. This way there is less chance of harming your gums. Many people also don’t know that you should not brush your teeth right after eating sweets or drinking soda, as the tooth enamel is weakened and can be damaged at this stage. The bacteria feed off of the consumed sugars, and produce an acidic by product that temporarily weakens the tooth enamel.
We want research, we want results!
There need to be more studies, this much is sure. According to studies published by The Scientific Basis of Dental Health Education, the traditional tooth brushing methods are the best, because they are the easiest to learn. One of the studies involved Dr. John Wainwright, who states, since there is no scientific evidence for either technique being better, there can be no consensus as of yet. “I usually tell my patients to concentrate more effort on the areas where plaque occurs more frequently. This includes the meeting point between tooth and gums, or the tooth surfaces used for chewing and biting. I also recommend using gentle, rubbing motions to remove plaque.” All experts do agree that studies nee dot be made, and that once this is done this topic can be finally laid to rest. If this does not happen, patients may lose trust, which can greatly hurt the doctor- patient relationship.