Do you brush your teeth the right way?

How confident are you that you are brushing your teeth correctly? Research at the University College London published in the British Dental Journal may have you changing your methods.

When the British dental health experts investigated advice on how to brush your teeth, they found that even dentists and dental associations can’t seem to agree on how you should do this daily menial task.

“The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth,” says researcher Aubrey Sheiham, a professor of dental public health. “If people hear one thing from a dental association, another from a toothbrush company and something else from their dentist, no wonder they are confused about how to brush. In this study we found an unacceptably inconsistent array of advice from different sources.”

The most important recommendation is that you brush every day, preferably at least twice a day. And you don’t have to use a complex technique.

As Sheiham points out: “Dental associations need to be consistent about what method to recommend, based on how effective the method is. Most worryingly, the methods recommended by dental associations are not the same as the best ones mentioned in dental textbooks. There is no evidence to suggest that complicated techniques are any better than a simple gentle scrub.”

Whatever you do, don’t brush too hard.

“Brush gently with a simple horizontal scrubbing motion, with the brush at a forty-five degree angle to get to the dental plaque,” Sheiham advises. “To avoid brushing too hard, hold the brush with a pencil grip rather than a fist. This simple method is perfectly effective at keeping your gums healthy.”

And don’t be too obsessed about brushing right after eating.

“There is little point in brushing after eating sweets or sugary drinks to prevent tooth decay,” says Sheiham “It takes bacteria from food about two minutes to start producing acid, so if you brush your teeth a few minutes after eating sugary foods, the acid will have damaged the enamel.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.