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What's the Best Way to Brush Your Teeth?

Expert advice is 'unacceptably inconsistent,' study finds
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- If you're unsure about the best way to brush your teeth, you're unlikely to get much help from experts.

Dental associations and toothpaste and toothbrush companies don't agree on the most effective method to brush teeth, and their advice is "unacceptably inconsistent," a new study says.

Researchers at University College London in England examined the brushing recommendations from dental associations in 10 countries, toothpaste and toothbrush makers, and in dental textbooks.

The investigators found a wide range of recommendations on brushing technique, how often to brush and for how long, according to the study published Aug. 8 in the British Dental Journal. The findings highlight the need for better research on proper brushing, the study authors said.

"The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth," said study senior author Aubrey Sheiham, professor of dental public health.

"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," Sheiham said in a university news release.

"Dental associations need to be consistent about what method to recommend, based on how effective the method is," Sheiham added. "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 found that the most commonly recommended method is to gently jiggle the toothbrush back and forth in small motions in order to loosen food particles, plaque and bacteria. However, there is no proof that this is any better than basic scrubbing, the researchers said.

"Brush gently with a simple horizontal scrubbing motion, with the brush at a 45-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," Sheiham said.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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