Friday, 22 August 2014


Advice on the best way to brush teeth for adults and children is confusing and inconsistent. There is also a lack of agreement on how often to brush and for how long because of an absence of good research. Experts say there is no evidence that one method is better than another.

The most commonly-recommended toothbrushing method involves a horizontal brush movement with some circular motions. But six different tooth-brushing techniques are recommended by dentists and dental associations. Some involve angling the brush at 45 degrees, others involve vertical brush movements while using the brush to 'scrub' the teeth was also recommended.

Most of the advice suggested brushing teeth twice a day, but one source said it should be three times daily. When it came to how long to brush teeth for, 26 sources advised brushing for two minutes, 12 for two to three minutes and two sources recommended three minutes of brushing. There appears to be no consensus among professional bodies on the best method of toothbrushing for the general population or for people of different ages or with particular dental conditions.

The wide diversity in recommendations, for something that is done twice a day, should be of serious concern to the dental profession. There is an urgent need for more research into the comparative effectiveness of brushing methods.
No one brushing technique has been shown to be better than any other.

Prof Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser at the British Dental Association, warns that there is little point brushing teeth straight after eating sugary foods to prevent tooth decay. Bacteria from food starts producing acid after a few minutes, which softens the enamel on the teeth, so brushing during this time could damage the enamel. "Leave it for an hour or so," he advises.

My advice: brush teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for at least two minutes to help keep teeth and mouth healthy.

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