Brushing one’s teeth is an extremely important part of one’s daily oral hygiene. Coupled with flossing, it removes the plaque that causes cavities and gum disease. There have been a variety of methods for toothbrushing that have been recommended. The main question is usually “Do I brush side to side or up and down?” Either way, if done properly, can be fine. If one wishes to go up and down, it is best to start above (on the upper) or below (on the lower) the gum line and roll the toothbrush head across the surface of the teeth. I will tell patients who wish to use that technique to brush your teeth in the direction that the teeth grow. When going side to side, the bristles should be angled at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the teeth, and then, the handle should be vibrated side to side. With either method, vigorous scrubbing must be avoided. Dental plaque is not very difficult to remove and only requires a gentle hand on the brush. Too much pressure can cause the gums and tooth enamel to be eroded away causing permanent damage.
One of the most common questions that I get asked is “is it worth it to invest in an electric toothbrush?” The answer that I give is that it is a matter of personal preference. A number of different factors must be considered. Cost is probably top on the list. An electric toothbrush will cost significantly more than a manual one. And the brush portion of the electric model will need to be replaced jut as frequently as the manual variety, and usually at a higher cost. Is an electric toothbrush more effective at cleaning the tooth surfaces? Many studies have shown that both manual and electric toothbrushes perform their job equally well. The main thing is that if it is easier for someone to clean their teeth with an electric toothbrush and they can afford the extra expense, then that is what I would recommend that they use. For people with manual dexterity problems, such as arthritis sufferers, an electric toothbrush can be a great help in cleaning one’s teeth. When buying an electric toothbrush, always look for the American Dental Association seal of approval. The ADA does stringent, independent testing so you can be assured that the manufacturers claims have been verified.