We still don’t know how to brush our teeth despite years of advice, reveals study
12:49 GMT, 18 May 2012
Britons are well known for having bad teeth compared to the pearly whites of their American cousins – but a European study has found we are not alone.
For while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay.
Circular motion: Dentists advise patients not to brush up and down
In two separate studies, Pia Gabre from the University of Gothenburg, led two studies into the toothbrushing habits of more than 2,000 Swedes aged 15-16, 31-35, 60-65 and 76-80.
They were asked various dental care questions like how long they brushed for and how much toothpaste they used.
The researchers were aghast to discover 90 per cent of the population did not clean their teeth in the most effective way.
Many failed to brush twice a day, while others rinsed out their mouths afterwards so diluting the protective effect of the fluoride toothpaste.
HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH PROPERLY
Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45 degree angle against the gum line. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.
Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line.
Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the toe (the front part) of the brush.
Brushing your tongue will freshen your breath and clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
Advice from the British Dental Health Foundation
'Swedes generally do brush their teeth, but mostly because of social norms and to feel fresh rather than to prevent tooth decay,' said Professor Gabre.
'Most of the interviewed subjects learned to brush their teeth as children, by their parents. Even if they have been informed about more effective techniques later in life, they continue to brush their teeth like they always have.'
The British Dental Association recommends using a toothbrush with a small head as it's easier to get into all the nooks and crannies. Most people should opt for a medium or soft brush.
Meanwhile the best technique is a circular action rather than scrubbing up and down, taking time to reach areas at the very back of the mouth where bacteria can accumulate.
Teeth should be cleaned for a minimum of two minutes twice a day.
Toothpaste should contain fluoride at a concentration of at least 1,350ppm. Most leading brands will contain these levels.
Flossing between teeth is important to remove a build up of detritus.
Despite their shortcomings, 80 per cent of Swedes were generally happy with how they took care of their teeth.
The researchers concluded that knowledge about toothbrushing must be improved and that the provided advice must be made simpler, clearer and more easy to use.