The most important thing patients can do is to follow recommended dental care guidelines at home which are to brush their teeth twice per day, for two minutes each time. This should be done with a toothbrush which has soft bristles. Toothbrushes should then be discarded once the bristles are matted, squashed or frayed – this is clear to see. At this point a new toothbrush should be used. The choice between manual and electric or battery powered is a personal choice – both types of brushes can be used effectively. For the best results, patients should use a product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance (American Dental Association approval standard).
In terms of brushing methods, this should be done two times per day for two minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste. The reason for the two minute timing is because this duration has been proven to effectively remove plaque build up. Additionally the use of a toothpaste containing fluoride will increase the level of fluoride in the mouth and saliva which is linked to lower levels of bacteria, plaque and cavities.
There are a range of methods and techniques for tooth brushing, and some custom advice may be provided by dentists to individual patients. The general advice is to put the toothbrush against the gums at an angle of 45 degrees in order to remove plaque from around the gingival margin, and to move the toothbrush back and forth in short strokes, this should be done in a gentle manner so as not to cause sore gums or receding gums which is also possible, in particular with the use of powered tooth brushes. In order to clean the inside surfaces, the brush should be tilted vertically and up and down strokes should be used. Whichever technique is used, and whichever type of brush is used, brushing needs to reach and clean all surfaces – outer, inner and chewing surfaces.
Additional important tips include that toothbrushes must not be shared as this can lead to infection and is unhygienic, toothbrushes should be rinsed thoroughly after every use in order to remove andy remaining toothpaste and debris. This also allows your toothbrush to dry and will then be clean and dry ready for your next use. This will also ensure your toothbrush is clean and lasts longer. After each use, your toothbrush should be stored in an upright position so that it can dry fully and naturally in the air.
Toothbrushes should not be stored in a closed case as this will lead to microbial growth compared to leaving it exposed in the air. Storage and travel cases should only be used for travel purposes and toothbrushes should ideally be completely dry when packed as packing a wet toothbrush is more unhygienic. Toothbrushes or replaceable brush heads should be replaced every 3 months, or 4 months maximum. This is because the effectiveness is reduced once the bristles are worn, or twisted and frayed. In particular some children have a habit of chewing their toothbrush which leads to faster wear of the bristles.