November 22, 2014
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Oral Care

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Proper brushing techniques

Why brush?

Tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps control plaque, which is the residue that can build up on teeth. Be sure to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if you use an electric brush) every three to four months.

Types of toothbrush: Power and manual

A power toothbrush uses regular or rechargeable battery power. As you guide it along your teeth, the head of the power toothbrush vibrates and/or rotates to help clean your teeth. Rechargeable electric power toothbrushes that rotate and vibrate can remove more plaque and reduce gingivitis (gum inflammation) more than manual toothbrushes. Some power toothbrushes have timers to help you tell if you are brushing for the recommended amount of time.

People may find power toothbrushes easier to use than manual toothbrushes, particularly if they have conditions such as arthritis. Power toothbrushes are also a convenient option for caregivers who are brushing someone else's teeth.

A manual toothbrush does not have a power source, and does not vibrate or rotate in your mouth. A manual toothbrush can be an effective way to get your teeth clean as long as it is used with a proper brushing technique (see below).

Brushing technique

  1. Carefully brush all tooth surfaces. Move the brush over the surface of 2 to 3 teeth at a time using short, circular motions and applying firm but gentle pressure so that the bristles slide under the gum line. Do not use a back and forth motion on teeth as this causes damage to the gums. Allow some overlap as you move to the next set of teeth to make sure that the brush makes contact with each tooth on all sides and surfaces.
     
  2. Brush for at least 2 to 3 minutes. Dentists recommend brushing for at least the entire length of a song. To ensure you are brushing for the recommended period of time try listening to the radio or watching TV while you brush. You can also use an egg timer to track your time.

Brushing tips

  • Brush your tongue. This removes germs and bacteria and help to keep your breath fresh
  • Rinse with water after brushing. This will discard any debris left after brushing and keep your mouth moist, preventing dry mouth.
  • Change your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if you use a power toothbrush) every 3 to 4 months. Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, they can also harbour harmful bacteria that can cause infection. You should also change your toothbrush after any illness.

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