Plaque around the gums can cause bad breath, infection, and ultimately, lead to tooth loss. However, the precursor of plaque begins to form almost immediately after we brush our teeth. The pre cursor, called, pellicle, is a natural occurring protective layer. But, if allowed to collect debris and bacteria, it will eventually form, plaque, the bad coating we try to remove when we brush and floss our teeth. That’s why most dentists and hygienists recommend brushing for two to three minutes, twice daily.
Using a toothbrush the wrong way with the wrong toothpaste can saw your teeth in half and cause gum recession. With enough damage, your teeth can become brittle and break.
Toothbrush bristles can be soft, medium or, stiff, can have rounded or jagged tips, and have straight or irregular bristle rows. Dentists generally agree with research that shows hard bristles are better at removing plaque but sometimes disagree on other factors about stiffness. According to research, anything abrasive to your teeth, like using “gritty” toothpaste, can be damaging. Consequently, it is better to use non abrasive toothpaste. You will also want to ask your dental team the best way to brush without causing damage.
Cheap toothbrushes very often have jagged, blade-like, tips that can cut the gums (Research) and lead to inflammation and infection. You always want to use a toothbrush with rounded tips, like the one in the photo from SuperSmile. Designed by a dentist, Dr. Irwin Smigel, it has medium stiffness and very nicely rounded bristle tips.
Most toothbrushes have straight rows and flat alignment to their bristles. Some have bristles angled in different directions. The tooth brush in the photo has an arc shape to the bristles that when angled 45°, allows only bristle tips to contact the teeth when brushing correctly. The center row of bristles at the peak of the arc can more easily access the hard to reach areas of the gums. But, some toothbrush manufactures have designed their bristles to angle in different directions, promising to be more effective. However, research shows those tested with multi angled bristle rows perform no better than those with straight rows. Make sure to ask your dental team for a toothbrush recommendation. They have seen the results and will know best.
Most research tells us that power tooth brushes, with hundreds of movements per use, clean our teeth better than manual toothbrushes. That’s important because, the longer plaque stays, the faster it grows. Using a power toothbrush has been shown by research to be much more predictable at removing plaque than is a manual toothbrush.
Many dental professionals recommend power toothbrushes, but which power toothbrush works best? According to at least one report, the oscillating type is better at removing plaque after both 4 and 12 weeks, than a purely sonic type. However, because the findings were only observations, not real research, the authors ultimately reported that both power toothbrushes were superior to manual toothbrushes. It’s best to ask your dentist about their experience and recommendation.
Most importantly, we need to brush twice per day for at least 2 minutes with non abrasive tooth paste. And, if possible, we should try to use a power toothbrush with the same non abrasive toothpaste.
In all cases, it is equally important to floss and brush correctly, techniques your dentist or dental hygienist can show you. A great time to review these techniques is during your teeth cleaning, which for most people, should be twice each year.