Brushing our teeth is a critical part of preventive dentistry. It something we can do at home every day to help protect our oral health. When done right, toothbrushing can dramatically reduce your risk of cavities.
Unfortunately, there is a big difference between doing it right and what people usually do, and that’s been highlighted by a recent study of the toothbrushing techniques practiced by young adults.
Brush to the Best of Your Abilities
For this study, researchers in Germany asked a random selection of young adults born in 1995 (98 individuals, 54 female) to brush their best. They then analyzed how the subjects brushed. They compared the brushing techniques of these young adults to an ideal technique as well as to the results of a previous study. In the previous study, young adults born in 1992 were asked to brush as they usually do.
Brushing Longer, but Not Better
The young adults in this study definitely brushed for a long time, an average of almost three-and-a-half minutes, much longer than the typical recommendation of brushing for about two minutes. This was also much longer than the previous group, which had brushed for just over two minutes on average.
However, this group still had problems paying adequate attention to all the tooth surfaces. Of the average of about 207 seconds brushing, they spent over 91 seconds on the buccal surfaces of teeth–the ones closest to the lips and cheeks, what we might call the “outside” surface of the teeth. They also spent about 85 seconds brushing the occlusal surfaces of their teeth–the ones that contact the teeth in the opposite arch. But they only spent 30 seconds brushing the lingual surfaces of their teeth–the ones closest to the tongue. That is basically the same amount of time spent on the lingual surfaces by the previous group–and not enough to get them adequately clean.
Brushing too long in certain places can also be bad: it can increase the wear on your teeth caused by abrasive toothpastes.
We Can Help with Good Oral Hygiene
As this study reminds us, good oral hygiene isn’t something that comes naturally to us. Even when we think we’re doing our best, we might not be doing well enough. But there is good news: you don’t have to go it alone. You have a dedicated health professional that can help you learn the weaknesses in your brushing routine so that you can do it better.
When you come in for your regular dental checkups, we’ll perform a professional cleaning. During this cleaning, we’ll remove hardened tooth deposits known as tartar. Do you know what those are? That’s the residue of spots that you miss when brushing and flossing. This gives us (almost literally) concrete evidence of where your oral hygiene is not going well. We can tell you about this so that you can learn to do a better job next time. That way, you can avoid effects like cavities and gum disease. We can also help protect your teeth with preventive procedures like dental sealants.
Working together, we can protect your teeth, making sure they stay bright and healthy for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.