Home Dental Care Brushing your teeth: how to do it right!

Brushing your teeth: how to do it right!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 352 views

Brushing teeth is part of the daily routine for most Germans. Nevertheless, caries and periodontitis are widespread in this country. How can that be? The reasons for this apparently lie in the quality of tooth brushing – one brushes regularly, but incorrectly. Read here when, how often and, above all, how you should brush your teeth.

How to brush your teeth properly!

When brushing your teeth, you should follow a few simple rules:  

  • brush your teeth regularly, because the removed biofilm forms immediately after each brushing
  • brush your teeth thoroughly – it helps if you proceed systematically (see below)
  • brush your teeth with the right technique
  • brush your teeth with the right brush
  • Clean the spaces between your teeth regularly

Many people still brush their teeth the way they learned to do as children. However, dental recommendations have changed over the past few decades.

Wait after the meal

You shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after every meal. For example, if you’ve eaten highly acidic fruits like apples, oranges, and kiwis, salads with vinegar dressing, or fruit juice, it’s best to wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth.

Because the acids dissolve minerals such as calcium and phosphate from the tooth enamel, which weakens the protective layer of the teeth. If you then brush your teeth directly, you rub off the enamel.

After about an hour, however, the mineral-rich saliva has largely remineralized your teeth, so you can brush your teeth without worry.

Cleaning with the bass method

In terms of technology, dentists now recommend something different than they used to: instead of brushing your teeth in a circle, the so-called bass method is now recommended – brushing from red to white. Because it has been shown that by brushing your teeth in a circular motion, food residue and bacteria can be pushed under the gums , possibly causing them to become inflamed.

Here’s how the bass method works:

  • Position the toothbrush in such a way that the bristles cover the tooth surface and gums in equal parts.
  • Make sure that the angle between the bristle axis and the tooth is between 45 and 60 degrees.
  • Now press lightly so that the bristles begin to bend.
  • Now you can go ahead and brush your teeth. To do this, move the brush a few times while gently shaking it and then sweep away the loosened plaque, starting from the gums and downwards. Simply move the brush back and forth on the chewing surfaces.

The right plastering technique – the KAI system

It is best to proceed systematically when brushing your teeth, so that all teeth and surfaces are actually treated. The “KAI” system has proven itself. Start with the chewing surfaces, then brush the outside and finally the inside of the teeth.

It is also very important that you do not press too hard while brushing your teeth. The pressure you apply should not exceed 150 grams. That’s how much an average orange weighs, for example. If you are unsure: simply use a letter scale to check how much pressure you are exerting on the toothbrush when brushing your teeth.

Why brushing your teeth properly is so important

Healthy teeth not only look good and don’t hurt, they also save money – after all, the costs for crowns or bridges quickly reach the three or four-digit euro range.

But only one percent of all adults in Germany have caries-free teeth. The majority of the rest have holes or crowns, and around 20 percent even suffer from severe periodontitis.

One reason for this may be the fact that many people do not brush their teeth properly. This is what a study by the Forsa Institute commissioned by the University of Witten/Herdecke and the insurance company AXA suggests. According to this, 57 percent of Germans do not brush their teeth in accordance with current dental recommendations. 

This is what happens when you don’t take good care of your teeth!

Without the right care, bacteria that cause caries and periodontitis quickly spread in the mouth. The tooth-damaging microorganisms feed on sugary food residues that settle on the teeth together with saliva residues as a so-called biofilm or plaque. They convert the ingested sugar into acid and excrete it.

The acid in turn attacks the tooth substance by removing minerals from the tooth. Over time, the tooth becomes porous and holes appear – the caries is there. The gums also suffer, they can become painfully inflamed and even lead to severe periodontitis.

Both diseases not only cause damage in the mouth, but can – if left untreated – spread to the entire body. For example, periodontitis promotes arthritis, diabetes and even heart attacks. Left untreated, tooth decay can eventually affect the jawbone as well.

Mouthwash is not an alternative

You can only prevent these dental diseases by brushing your teeth regularly. Antibacterial mouthwash is not an effective alternative. Although it disinfects the surface of the mouth, it does not remove the bacteria-rich plaque. You should therefore only use mouthwash as a supplement: First brush your teeth, then rinse your mouth with the mouthwash.

Which toothpaste is suitable?

It doesn’t really matter which type or brand of toothpaste you use to brush your teeth. Just make sure it’s sugar-free and contains fluoride for added protection against tooth decay.

Be careful with toothpastes that are supposed to whiten teeth ! These often contain abrasives that gradually wear away the enamel if you brush your teeth with them regularly. You can read more about this in the article on toothpaste .

How often to brush your teeth and for how long?

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day , in the morning and in the evening. It’s even better if you brush your tooth three times a day – after each main meal.

There is also a clear answer to the question of whether brushing your teeth before or after breakfast is better: afterwards. Because after meals, leftovers collect in the mouth, which the bacteria convert into harmful acid. Brushing your teeth stops the acid attack on your teeth.

You should always brush your teeth for three minutes . You need this time to thoroughly clean each tooth. Prolonged cleaning is not recommended. Scientists from Newcastle University in England found in a study that prolonged cleaning does not remove more plaque. The risk of injuring gums and tooth enamel also increases if you brush your teeth for longer than three minutes.

Brush your teeth properly – electrically or manually?

The right toothbrush is another important aspect of brushing your teeth properly. It doesn’t matter whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric model. Both clean – applied correctly – equally well.

  • Experts recommend models of medium hardness as the ideal manual toothbrush , with exposed tooth necks rather soft brushes. Rounded bristles prevent you from hurting your gums when brushing your teeth. The head of the toothbrush should be small so that the molars can also be reached easily.
  • Many people find it easier to brush their teeth with an electric toothbrush because the brush does most of the work. There are also electric toothbrushes that clean teeth with ultrasound. They should remove plaque even more thoroughly.  

The same applies to manual and electric toothbrushes: Replace the brush or the brush head after three months at the latest . Because the cleaning effect decreases over time, the bristles split and injure the gums when brushing

You should also brush your teeth with a new brush after a bad  cold , flu or infection with cold sores, as some of the pathogens may have lodged between the bristles. This could keep you reinfecting yourself every time you brush your teeth.

Don’t forget the interdental spaces!

The risk of caries is particularly high in the spaces between the teeth, because the toothbrush does not get there easily. Therefore, you should also thoroughly clean the spaces between your teeth.

Many people use dental floss for this . Ideally, it is used before brushing your teeth so that the fluoride in the toothpaste can penetrate the cleaned surfaces in the gaps and harden the tooth enamel.

An alternative to dental floss are interdental brushes . They are better suited for cleaning larger interdental spaces, while dental floss is better for crowded teeth.

Brushing your teeth alone is not enough

Brushing your teeth is important, but there’s more you can do to keep your teeth healthy. For example in terms of nutrition – consume as little sugary food and drinks as possible . In this way, you provide the oral bacteria with less food that they can use to form acid.

In addition to brushing your own teeth, you can have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year ( professional tooth cleaning, PZR ): Tartar and plaque are also thoroughly removed from those areas that you cannot reach with a brush and dental floss or interdental brushes .

In addition, the six-monthly check-up at the dentist should be a matter of course. Many practices also offer individual prophylaxis. This is an oral hygiene program that is individually tailored to your personal oral situation. Among other things, you will also learn how to brush your teeth properly. The program usually includes the following modules:

  • Recording of the oral hygiene status
  • nutritional advice
  • oral hygiene training
  • fluoridation of the teeth
  • Sealing of caries-free indentations and pits in the permanent molars with hardening plastics
  • Checking the success of the exercise

The costs for individual prophylaxis are not covered by health insurance companies – you have to pay for them out of your own pocket. This also applies to professional teeth cleaning .

Brushing teeth for babies and toddlers

The assumption that the milk teeth are not that important because they will soon be replaced by the permanent teeth anyway is wrong – the first teeth are an important placeholder for the permanent teeth. If they are lost early (due to tooth decay, for example), the new teeth may be misaligned.

Therefore, children’s teeth should be cleaned carefully from the start. You can find out how this works and what else needs to be considered in the article  on brushing teeth in babies and toddlers .

brushing teeth during pregnancy

Expectant mothers need particularly intensive dental care. Because during pregnancy , the rising hormone levels ensure that the gums are more supplied with blood and loosened up. It is therefore more sensitive and easier to injure – bacteria that cause periodontitis can penetrate more quickly.

ine periodontitis not only the dental health of the mother. It can also have adverse effects on the unborn child. Because the mother’s immune system defends itself against bacterial inflammation in the mouth with certain messenger substances. These substances also get into the uterus and can trigger premature labor. Scientific studies have shown that untreated periodontitis increases the risk of miscarriage.

Therefore, women should visit the dentist right at the beginning of pregnancy and attend at least two appointments for periodontitis screening during pregnancy . It also makes sense to brush your teeth particularly gently and carefully during this time so as not to injure the sensitive gums.

Another piece of advice for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester: If you suffer from morning sickness and vomiting, use a toothbrush with an extra small head when brushing your teeth. A children’s toothbrush may even be useful. The small brush head irritates the sensitive uvula less than a large one. so that nausea does not set in so easily.

If you have vomited, you should wait about 60 minutes before brushing your teeth. This gives your saliva enough time to neutralize the acid from the stomach that softens the tooth enamel.

Brushing teeth with fillings and implants

If a tooth has a filling or a crown, it is particularly susceptible to caries and plaque. Because bacteria can easily settle at the transition to the tooth substance. Therefore, you should take special care of these teeth and take care of them thoroughly.

The same applies to implants. Because the acid-producing bacteria cannot harm anything, but they can harm the gums and jawbone. As a basis for the implant, these must be solid and healthy. If, for example, the surrounding jawbone becomes inflamed, the implant loses its hold and falls out. This can be avoided by always brushing your teeth thoroughly, regularly and correctly . 

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