Why is brushing important?
Brushing is important as it removes harmful plaque, which is a sticky substance made from food particles and bacteria. Plaque attaches to the tooth surfaces and if left to collect can cause severe decay and gum disease.
How does plaque lead to decay?
When eating sugary or starchy foods the bacteria of plaque create acids that attack the enamel surfaces of the teeth. If plaque is not removed from the teeth it means that the acid remains in close contact with the teeth and eventually the enamel may become worn and damaged. This in turn leaves the rest of the tooth more susceptible to infection and decay.
How does plaque lead to gum disease?
Plaque can turn into tartar if it is not removed. This is a hard substance that is difficult to remove. Tartar forms along the gum line and the plaque underneath it releases harmful poisons, which cause the teeth to become infected, sore and swollen. The gums start to move away from the supportive bone beneath them, causing the teeth to become loose and ultimately fall out.
How can I stop gum disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss on a regular basis. Ensure to visit your dentist every 6 months for a check-up. Try to avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks. See your dentist immediately if you notice symptoms of early gum disease or decay.
What symptoms and signs should I be looking out for?
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Redness in the gums
- Soreness and irritation
- Bleeding (especially after flossing or brushing)
- Swollen gums
- Tooth pain
If these symptoms become apparent see your dentist as it is best to treat gum disease as early as possible to prevent it worsening.
Which toothbrush is best to use?
There is a huge array of toothbrushes available and it can be difficult to choose. Your dentist will be able to advise you about which brush will suit you best. It is generally recommended that children use brushes and toothpaste specifically designed for young people.
Adults should use a medium-sized brush with soft-medium nylon bristles. Electric toothbrushes are often easier to use and they tend to be better at removing plaque.
There are now many specialist toothbrushes, including those for sensitive teeth, for example. Your dentist or dental hygienist can provide you with further information about oral hygiene products.
How often do I need to change my toothbrush?
It is generally recommended that you change your toothbrush every 2-3 months or as soon as you notice the filaments are showing signs of damage.
What is a proper brushing technique?
Brushing is designed to remove plaque from your mouth. It is important to brush all areas of your mouth and to spend at least 2 minutes brushing twice a day.
A recommended brushing regime is as follows:
- Place your toothbrush head against your teeth and angle the head towards the gum line.
- Move the brush in circular motions around each surface of the individual teeth.
- Make sure to do some brushing on the tooth’s outer surfaces
- Brush the inner surfaces of the teeth by tilting the brush vertically and using gentle circular motions.
- Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth
- Brush your tongue
How often should I brush my teeth?
You should brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Most find it better to brush in the morning and evening, before going to bed.
Poor brushing during brace treatment can lead to decalcification – when food left on teeth comes in contact with bacteria, creating acid. This acid robs teeth of calcium and phosphate, causing decalcification or ‘white scars.’