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An August 2014 study by University College London which was published in the British Dental Journal claims that advice from dental associations and toothbrush companies on how individuals should brush their teeth is quite inconsistent.
Study Results
According to the senior author of the study, Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health), the advice that we are receiving is “unacceptably inconsistent.” Professor Sheiham goes on to say, “The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth…If people hear one thing from a dental association, another from a toothbrush company and something else from their dentist, no wonder they are confused about how to brush. In this study we found an unacceptably inconsistent array of advice from different sources.
“Dental associations need to be consistent about what method to recommend, based on how effective the method is. Most worryingly, the methods recommended by dental associations are not the same as the best ones mentioned in dental textbooks. There is no evidence to suggest that complicated techniques are any better than a simple gentle scrub.”
The study examined advice given by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies, and dental textbooks in ten different countries. The advice offered by those sources varied greatly in terms of how often a person should brush their teeth, how long brushing sessions should last, and what method should be used to brush the teeth.
The most popular brushing technique espoused by these sources involves moving the brush back and forth in small strokes. This technique is intended to dislodge plaque and food particles. Major studies have not proven this technique to be any more effective than basic scrubbing, though.
So How Should We Brush?
We now know that the advice we are getting about how to brush our teeth isn’t consistent or reliable. So how should we brush our teeth?
The study’s authors recommend the following: “Brush gently with a simple horizontal scrubbing motion, with the brush at a forty-five degree angle to get to the dental plaque. To avoid brushing too hard, hold the brush with a pencil grip rather than a fist. This simple method is perfectly effective at keeping your gums healthy.There is little point in brushing after eating sweets or sugary drinks to prevent tooth decay. It takes bacteria from food about two minutes to start producing acid, so if you brush your teeth a few minutes after eating sugary foods, the acid will have damaged the enamel.”
The most important thing that you can do for your dental health is to brush your teeth regularly. Here at the office of Dr. TJ Bolt, we recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. You should also have a regular checkup by the dentist at least twice a year.
If it has been a while since your last dental checkup or if you are having dental problems, contact the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. We provide comprehensive dental care in a warm and relaxed environment. Call Dr. Bolt’s office to schedule an appointment today.

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Dr. TJ Bolt