Start with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush for two minutes twice a day and floss at least once (see below).
There are various techniques for brushing with a manual toothbrush but this is the one we recommend:
- Step 1: Start with the inner and outer surfaces, brushing gently at a 45-degree angle in short, circular strokes against the gum line. Make sure you also reach your back teeth.
- Step 2: The area behind the bottom front teeth is especially prone to tartar buildup and needs particular attention. Tilt the brush vertically there and use gentle up-and-down strokes with the tip of the brush.
- Step 3: Move on to the chewing surfaces. Hold the brush flat and brush back and forth along these surfaces.
- Step 4: Brush your tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove food particles and help remove odour-causing bacteria to freshen your breath.
- Step 5: Rinse your brush well after use and leave it to dry. This removes a lot of bacteria that would otherwise return to your mouth when you use it next time.
You may be surprised to learn that you should not brush your teeth immediately after a meal. The bacteria in your mouth begin to start breaking down food immediately, producing acids that soften the tooth enamel. If you brush straight away you risk brushing away particles of enamel. Try to leave brushing for at least half an hour. There is even a good argument for brushing before breakfast, getting rid of plaque that has accumulated overnight that would otherwise metabolise your breakfast food to cause decay-promoting acid. If you do brush before breakfast, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you have eaten and/or use a fluoride mouthwash, which will help remineralise and harden the teeth.
Electric toothbrushes are much more “active” in the mouth and are very good for people who have difficulty using a manual brush, but there is no strong evidence that, used in the same way by the same operator, they will do a significantly better job of cleaning your teeth. Most dentists agree that the key is technique. If you brush properly you will do as well with a manual as you would with an electric.
You should brush at least twice a day but there’s nothing wrong with brushing three times a day. And brush for at least two minutes each time.
A soft-bristled brush is recommended. Hard brushes can aggravate the gums and even damage the teeth if the enamel has been weakened by mouth acids. And always brush gently.
About three months but if it looks worn before then, replace it.