Brushing is important because it removes plaque and food particles from the mouth and cleans the teeth. Plaque can harden and cling to the teeth if it is not removed, contributing to gum disease and tooth decay.

How does plaque cause decay?

Plaque is made from bacteria and food particles. When you eat foods that contain sugar or starch, the bacteria present in the plaque releases harmful plaque acids that bother the teeth, weakening the protective enamel surfaces and leaving the teeth at risk of decay and damage.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

If plaque is left in the mouth it can become hard and turn into tartar (calculus). Tartar cannot be brushed off the teeth, as it must be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist. The gums can start to pull away from the teeth, causing pockets to form that may become infected and lead to abscesses. Advanced gum disease also affects the supportive bone tissue, resulting in the teeth coming loose and possibly falling out.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Brush twice a day to remove plaque and food debris from the mouth. Flossing is also important as it targets the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. Regular check-ups with your dentist are essential and visits to a dental hygienist are also highly recommended, especially if you are prone to plaque build-up.

How will I know if I have gum disease?

The first signs of gum disease are swollen, irritated and sore gums. Often, the first symptom people notice is bleeding gums.

Which toothbrush should I use?

With so many different toothbrushes on the market it can be complicated to pick a brush, but your dentist can provide guidance. Generally, toothbrushes with soft or medium bristles are best and the head of the brush should be small enough to reach the corners of the mouth. If you have sensitive teeth you may find it beneficial to use a brush with soft bristles. There are also brushes available that are designed for people who have difficulty holding a toothbrush.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

Ideally, you should change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Look-out for signs of wear on the brush head, and some brushes have bristles that have colour indicators to show when the brush needs replacing.

How should I brush my teeth?

When you brush your teeth it is important to cover all the teeth in the mouth and brush each quadrant of the mouth. It is important to brush all sides and surfaces of the tooth, to ensure that plaque and debris are removed from the mouth. Here are some tips for brushing:

  • Place the head of the toothbrush against the tooth and position the head in the direction of the gum line.
  • Move the brush gently in circular movements and brush the upper, inner and outer surfaces of the teeth.
  • Brush the tongue as it contains a lot of bacteria.
  • Brush along the gum line using gentle movements with the toothbrush head angled towards the gum line.


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