Brush Up!

Brush Up

How to choose the right toothbrush

Do you find yourself confounded by the range of toothbrushes available? Are you confused by the sheer variety and number of toothbrushes — each one with its own barrage of features?

The incredibly large selection of toothbrushes out there, probably makes you want to stick to the brand you’ve always used or randomly pick a brush that looks and costs about right and then head straight for the exit!

Before you resort to a quick getaway, take a look at this essential advice about toothbrushes. It will help you get past the overwhelming options and make informed decisions about choosing and using the right toothbrush so you can maintain optimum dental health.

Pick Right

Always look out for the following when purchasing a new toothbrush (ideally every 3 months or when worn, whichever comes first):

Smaller toothbrush heads allow easy access to all surfaces within the mouth, including around and behind the back molar teeth.

A soft-bristled toothbrush removes plaque – sticky and harmful germs lining the teeth – and food debris. Soft nylon bristles are safe for most people. Due to sensitivity of the gums and teeth, children and the elderly should use extra-soft bristles.

Medium or hard nylon bristles are less flexible than soft-bristles so improved brushing technique is needed to reach the same places. As they may cause bleeding and swelling of the gums and loss of protective enamel coating, these bristles should be selected with care and with professional advice. It is a myth that harder bristles clean your teeth better. In reality, you run a greater risk of harming your teeth and gums.

Powered toothbrushes are suitable for people who have limited hand movements such as stroke patients and people with arthritis. If used correctly, the manual toothbrush cleans just as effectively as the electric one.

Choose whichever type of handle (non-slip, flexible neck), shape of the head and style of bristles (rippled, flat) that is comfortable for you and that can reach into all sorts of hiding places for plaque.

How To Brush

Do not scrub – your teeth are not bathroom tiles! Applying excessive pressure to get that clean feel may do the exact opposite. When you press the bristles hard against your teeth, the bristle tips splay outward. By using a light touch, bristle tips are in contact with the teeth surface and gaps to remove plaque effectively.

Tilt your brush to a 45 degree angle with the bristles against your gum line —where your teeth meet the gum — and make circular strokes. Gently move the brush up and down or in small circles from the gum to cover the entire surface of the tooth. Finish up with a roll or flick of the brush from under the gum line towards the edge of the tooth. A sure way to wear down your teeth is to scrub hard horizontally across a row of teeth like you would on stubbornly stained floor tiles at home.

Follow the 2-minute rule twice a day: divide your teeth into four sections and spend 30 seconds over each. Follow up on self-care by going to a dentist for a professional clean on a half-yearly or yearly basis, to remove hardened plaque, which cannot be brushed away. Don’t forget your tongue when brushing.

Make Flossing A Habit

As tedious as it may seem, flossing removes plaque from surfaces inaccessible to the toothbrush so make it a habit to floss. Invisible plaque is a major contributor to tooth decay and gum disease and can harden into tartar in just 24 to 36 hours so make sure you floss everyday.

You’ll need a length of floss of about 45 centimetres for each gap between your teeth. Wrap the floss around your index and middle fingers, leaving 2.5 cm between your hands to slide up and down from the base of the gums. Curve the floss around the base of your tooth beneath the gum line. If you have only started flossing, your gums may bleed a little but this should stop over time. Try to floss before you brush and don’t snap the floss against your gums. An alternative to flossing is to use interdental cleaners or dental picks, which have handles.

To Top It Off…

Apart from freshening the breath, antimicrobial mouthwashes can prevent gum disease by reducing plaque buildup while fluoride ones prevent tooth decay. The proper gargling technique involves tipping your head back a little to retain the liquid at the back of your throat without swallowing or gagging. Blow some air through the throat, and gargle for at least 30 seconds or as instructed on the bottle.

Make It Fun

If all these steps seem like another set of chores to add to your daily pile of tasks, spice things up with music. Do some hip shakes or turn up the radio during your oral care routine. Good oral care reduces bacterial levels in the mouth, which leads to inflammation and disease of the gums and bones supporting the teeth so it is definitely worth going the extra mile when it comes to your teeth.

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