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Using The Wrong Toothbrush and Brushing in The Wrong Manner Can Do More Harm Than Good

Using The Wrong Toothbrush and Brushing in
The Wrong Manner Can Do More Harm Than Good

by Dr Fauziah Mohamed Yunus,
Klinik Pergigian Fauziah

Many of us take for granted, the simple invention that does so much to give us dental health. By dental health, I mean not just strong clean healthy teeth but healthy gums too.

Tooth brushing plays an important everyday role for personal oral hygiene. Brushing helps remove food and plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can irritate the gums. Plaque that is not removed can harden into calculus. Brushing is more difficult when calculus collects above the gum line. As a result, the irritated gum tissue may swell or bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease.

Brushing Up on Brushing

Nowadays there is a huge number of toothbrushes, they come in diverse sizes and are made of different materials. Whichever brand of toothbrush, toothpaste, or floss you choose, using proper brushing and flossing techniques is critical for adequately removing plaque, which causes cavities and gum disease.

5 Things To Look For In a Toothbrush

When faced with row upon row of toothbrushes at the local store, how do you choose a brush that is right for you? Here are some easy tips:

  • The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
  • Choose a brush with soft bristles, they are gentler on the gums and clean better because they are more flexible.
  • The bristles should be soft enough to easily get into the gum pockets so as to effectively and gently clean along the necks of the teeth.
    Bristles are now designed to be fine enough to reach deep into the narrowest crevice and have an elasticity that ensures a thorough clean as you brush.
    Hard and even medium bristles, may harm the enamel layer of teeth and gums, especially when coupled with heavy-handed brushing.
  • A long, slim-line, easy-grip handle helps reach right to the back teeth.
    Everyone knows that front teeth are easier to clean than back teeth. A long and slim handle makes it easier to jiggle the brush head in those tight spaces at the back.

5 Keys for a very effective brushing technique

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums so one row of bristle tips can slip slightly under the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short tooth-wide strokes.  Brush gently to avoid harming the gums; removing plaque doesn’t require much pressure
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

What’s the deal with flossing? Should I brush or floss first?

Of course, brushing your teeth is only a part of a complete dental care routine. You should also make sure to clean in between teeth daily with floss. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. Cleaning between teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner at least once a day. In reality most people do not floss their teeth regularly or at all, hence a good toothbrush that is designed to get into the gum line and between teeth, is probably the most important tool towards lifelong good dental health.

Busting some common beliefs and why you should see your dentist 2 times a year.

– Harder is better

This is a common belief when it comes to bristles on the toothbrush and brushing. In fact you don’t need a hard toothbrush because plaque is soft. Brush gently to avoid harming the gums; removing plaque doesn’t require much pressure!

Choosing soft tapered bristles have several benefits: they can penetrate gum line and in between teeth better. Also, soft tapered bristles are far gentler on the enamel of teeth and the gums, too.

– It is normal to have bleeding gums and blood when I brush

Bleeding gums usually means there is a build up of plaque and calculus. This needs to be cleaned regularly and professionally by a dentist. If your gums bleed make an appointment to see your dentist so they can remove the calculus as soon as possible as this is a sign of gum disease. Using a hard or medium toothbrush may also cause gums to bleed more easily than a soft brush.

– Scaling thins and harms my teeth

Scaling by a dentist is a professional cleaning where usually a ultrasonic machine is used to gently dislodge the calculus that has built up along your gum line and between your teeth. The machine does not harm or thin the teeth as it is placed along side the tooth surface so the vibration ‘knocks off’ the calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing alone and will grow thicker as it is traps plaque making the plaque harder to brush off. The plaque on the calculus hardens making the layer thicker. A dentist will gently and professionally clean the calculus away without harming the teeth.

– I only need to see my dentist when I have a problem or when I am in pain

See your dentist at least every 6 months. The dentist will be able to keep your gums healthy by making sure there is no build up of calculus and will check every surface of your teeth, which means problems like cavities and gum disease, can be treated when they are still in the early stages. Make it a habit to see your dentist regularly who will partner you to make sure you keep your teeth gums healthy for life!

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