What are we really doing when we brush our teeth?
Plaque is a clear film that collects on the teeth due to the action of bacteria in the mouth. More plaque builds up when these bacteria feed on the residue from our meals. Tooth brushing, when done well, easily removes plaque and helps prevent tooth decay.
Check your tooth brush
First, check the brush has soft bristles to protect the enamel from damage and decide if it’s time for a new brush.
Tooth brushing- holding your tooth brush correctly:
*Angle the brush head to around 45° – to let the tips of the bristles clean under the edge of the gum;
*Use a gentle pressure to just bend the bristles. Pressing too hard bends the bristles apart so that the tips are not even contacting the gumline – and will quickly turn a new toothbrush into a ‘shaggy dog’!
Tooth brushing – moving the brush correctly:
*Don’t scrub back and forth. Instead practice a circular motion, working on the same two to three teeth for 10 seconds before moving on. Continue this gentle, circular motion on all sides of the teeth – the tongue side, cheek side and biting surface.
*Behind the lower front teeth is a common problem area. For optimal tooth brushing here, hold the brush vertically, and work it up and down, moving gradually from one side to the other.
When plaque is not removed
If brushing doesn’t remove all plaque, it is left to harden into the crystalline deposit known as calculus – and this can only be removed by a dentist or dental professional.
It takes time to effectively remove plaque while it is still soft enough to do so. Allow yourself a full three minutes, once to twice per day – it’s likely time well spent!