Clean your teeth the right way – for optimal oral hygiene

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Cleaning our teeth is one of our most important daily hygiene routines. Find out how often is healthy for our teeth, which technique is the most efficient in removing plaque and why the spaces between the teeth are as important as the teeth themselves.

Clean your teeth the right way

Cleaning your teeth properly isn't that easy. It depends on the toothbrush you use, the health of your teeth and gums, and your own willingness and motivation. In any case, it's worth taking your oral health seriously and finding a good teeth cleaning routine.

The basic rules are:

  • Never just scrub back and forth. This damages the enamel and the necks of the teeth.
  • Don’t apply too much pressure, otherwise the gums will start to recede. Electric toothbrushes usually indicate when the pressure is too strong.
  • When using a manual toothbrush, make sure that the bristles are made of plastic and are rounded at the ends. The brush head should be short so that it can also reach less accessible places.

How important is cleaning the spaces between the teeth?

The spaces between the teeth are very important because deposits often build up here unnoticed, forming feeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. Ideally, they should therefore be cleaned every evening with dental floss or interdental brushes. However, experts disagree on whether this is best done before or after brushing.

Manual brush or electric?

Electric toothbrushes are considered gentler on the gums and more efficient than manual toothbrushes. Electric versions often have a built-in timer to help with time management, or even an app to optimise cleaning. Many people can't use a manual toothbrush properly or brush with too much pressure. But for people who have mastered the brushing technique, a manual toothbrush cleans just as well as an electric toothbrush.

With both types of toothbrushes, you should make sure you use a soft brush head and the right brushing technique and length of time.

How to clean teeth with an electric toothbrush

There are two types of electric toothbrush:

  1. the round-headed toothbrush (oscillating-rotating) and
  2. the sonic toothbrush.

Both are good for the daily teeth cleaning routine. It’s always good to follow the instructions provided by a dental hygienist in order to take full advantage of these brushes and prevent damage to hard and soft dental tissue.

The brushing technique also depends on the toothbrush.

Round-head toothbrush

Start at the back molar and slowly move the toothbrush forward, tooth by tooth. Brush once on the chewing surfaces, once on the outer and once on the inner surfaces of the teeth. Apart from brushing the chewing surfaces, always start directly at the gum line. On the inside, pay special attention to the incisors, as plaque easily accumulates here.

Sonic toothbrush

The sonic toothbrush is placed at a 45-degree angle to the gums and each tooth is cleaned for about five seconds. For sonic toothbrushes with multiple settings, the highest setting cleans best. Beginners can start with a lower setting to get used to the tickling sensation. Generally with electric toothbrushes there is no need for additional scrubbing movements – the toothbrush does the job by itself.

How to clean teeth with a manual toothbrush

Adopting the correct technique is key to maintaining healthy teeth, and “correct” covers several options. If you simply scrub back and forth, you risk damaging your gums and missing those less accessible areas.

The bass technique for experienced adults

The bass technique requires some practice, but is very effective when brushing with a manual toothbrush. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the junction between the gums and teeth, tilted slightly towards the gums. In this position, move the brush up and down lightly in each tooth section, i.e. along one or two teeth. After about ten movements, move on to the next section. Back-and-forth scrubbing is only permitted on the chewing surfaces.

The Stillman technique for receding gums

If your gums are receding (due to periodontitis for example, or incorrect brushing), just wiping the teeth according to the Stillman method is a good option. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle directly on the gums (not on the junction) and wipe downwards. This should be done tooth by tooth.

The circular method for children

The circular method is simple and therefore especially suitable for children. The concept is to start with the chewing surfaces and then move on to the outer and inner surfaces. On the outside and inside they make circular movements, and on the inside surfaces of the incisors they brush vertically from the gums to the teeth.

How often and how long should we clean?

Frequency depends on the health of the teeth and gums. Experts generally recommend brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste for 2-3 minutes at least twice a day.

Even better is to clean your teeth with a soft toothbrush after each meal. Contrary to what was often recommended in the past, this also applies after eating fruit or taking acidic drinks. However, if someone has severe tooth erosion – where acid attacks the enamel – it is gentler on the teeth to then rinse the mouth only with water and a fluoride-containing mouthwash.

The correct order for brushing your teeth

The order itself is less important than the routine. This means that everyone should determine a certain order for themselves and stick to it every day. This ensures that no tooth is forgotten. So the rule is: always start the same way (top or bottom, right or left), and always start at the back and work your way forward tooth by tooth.

What can be done to get rid of bad breath?

Bad breath despite cleaning your teeth

Normally, bad breath should disappear when food residues on the oral mucosa, tongue or in the spaces between the teeth are removed. However, this isn't always the case: there are more than 200 reasons for bad breath and tracking them down isn't easy. Some people still suffer from bad breath despite being rigorous with teeth and tongue cleaning, on top of using the right toothpastes and mouthwashes. The best thing to do is to try to recognise patterns and seek professional help.

Getting rid of bad breath

Yes or no to a mouthwash?

Mouthwashes can be used as an additional aid, but cannot replace your daily oral hygiene routine. They contain low concentrations of fluorides that act on the tooth enamel and can reduce caries by up to 50%. Some mouthwashes also contain active ingredients to combat gingivitis or hypersensitive teeth necks.

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