Toothbrushes are usually soft nylon (or natural bristle) brushes used to remove plaque (bacteria) from the teeth and gums.
Brushing is essential for everyone. Brushing cleans the inside, outside and biting surfaces of the teeth. Only brushing and flossing will remove the plaque (bacteria) that causes decay, gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath.
HOW DO I USE IT? Wet the bristles of the Toothbrush with warm water if the Toothbrush is new. This will help to soften the bristles for a more comfortable brush. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the brush. It is not necessary to cover the brush-head with paste, a pea-sized amount is plenty. A Toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles will more than adequately clean the teeth without causing damage to the teeth or gums. Always make sure to brush all the teeth both inside and out. Try to get in the habit of brushing the teeth in the same order each time, to avoid missing any parts. The best position to hold the Toothbrush is with the bristles at about 45 degrees to the tooth and gum and move the brush in a small circular action (concentrating on one tooth at a time). When a circular action is too difficult to manage, try using a small horizontal scrubbing action. Use firm pressure but never press too hard as this may damage the gums and be too abrasive on the teeth. It is important to clean both the teeth AND the gum next to the teeth. Finally, brush the biting surfaces of the teeth with a gentle scrubbing action. If a gagging sensation is experienced when brushing the back teeth, use a very small amount of toothpaste and try using a Toothbrush with a small head (even a child's brush) to prevent this from happening. Start brushing at the front of the mouth before gently moving towards the back. Having the mouth half closed while brushing may also help to avoid gagging. Rinse your brush and mouth with water and store your brush in a safe, clean area. Never use someone else's Toothbrush as bacteria may be spread by sharing a Toothbrush.
WHICH TYPE? There are many Toothbrushes available. No one single design has been shown to be any better at cleaning than another. The technique used determines how well the teeth are cleaned rather than the type of Toothbrush. Choose the brush that feels more comfortable in the mouth. Most Dentists recommend a brush with a small head, and soft, rounded, nylon bristles. People who are not used to using a Toothbrush with soft bristles may feel as if the brush is not cleaning well enough. Soft bristles, however, clean just as well as hard bristles and are less likely to cause damage to the teeth and gums. There is nothing wrong with an adult using a 'child's' tooth brush. Brushes designed for children often give a better clean by allowing easier access to the back teeth. The larger handle grips on some children's brushes may be helpful to people who have trouble gripping things e.g., a person with arthritis. Electric Toothbrushes are also available, and these also come in a number of designs. Using an electric brush may save a little time as it takes more time to achieve the same clean manually, however, a normal Toothbrush can do anything that an Electric Toothbrush can do. Always ensure that you rinse electric brushes well so that the workings don't become clogged with old tooth paste. Remember to replace the brush heads often, and to avoid spraying toothpaste around the room, don't turn the Toothbrush on until it is in your mouth! Electric Toothbrushes may be particularly good for people with limited dexterity or who have trouble with the fine movements required to brush teeth. Some people, because of past gum disease, have larger gaps between the teeth. A Dentist may recommend special Toothbrushes for these people.
As with all dental conditions your Dentist should be consulted. Your Dentist will diagnose and treat your particular problem. Ask your Dentist about how to brush and floss your teeth. Your Dentist can recommend the best type of Toothbrush to suit your needs.
1) Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 2) There are a wide range of Toothbrushes available from your Pharmacy. Your Pharmacist can supply the type recommended by your Dentist. 3) It is advisable to brush after meals whenever possible and to avoid snacking between meals to help prevent the growth of bacteria which can cause decay. 4) As decay is a major reason for fillings being necessary, avoiding the onset of dental cavities by practising good dental hygiene and brushing regularly is the best prevention. 5) See the Toothpastes, Mouthwashes and Flossing topics for more information about how to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Bristles wear out and can become too soft. Each person will wear out Toothbrushes at a different pace. Most dentists recommend changing your brush every 2-3 months. 'Shaggy dog' brushes need replacing as the bristles can no longer clean the teeth and gums efficiently. Even if the brush appears to be in good condition, after 6 months it has probably become ineffective. If you wear out your brush every few weeks, try applying less pressure and/or using a new brushing technique. Ask your Dentist for advice.
All information has been compiled in collaboration with leading Dental Practitioners and Researchers.
ORGANISATIONS and SUPPORT GROUPSSee the Australian Dental Association topic on the Healthpoint.