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Don’t give brushing the brush-off!

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Brushing is one thing, but brushing PROPERLY in another entirely. Here are some tips to keep you on the straight and narrow.

If you're a regular reader of our blogs, you’ll know how much we like to harp on about the importance of brushing. We make no apology for this, as there simply not other things that you can do on a day-to-day basis that will have such a major impact on the overall health of your teeth and gums.

We’ve often considered asking our patients to bring along a toothbrush on their next visit and demonstrate to us exactly how they brush their teeth. Why so? Because from the evidence we see every day here in the surgery, people have very different views on what constitutes proper brushing.

In the absence of this, however, we’ve decided to repeat our simple guide as to how you can get the very best from those few minutes every day with your brush in your hand.

Strangely, perhaps, the biggest single problem that we see is patients brushing too hard rather than too softly – often to the extent that they cause their gums to bleed. Blood is never acceptable when you’re brushing your teeth, and if you think it's from exerting too much pressure, then it's time to back off a little.


Signs of brushing too hard


A very good indicator of brushing too hard is the shape and state of your brush. It the bristles are beaten down – as if you'd been scrubbing the floor with it – then you're probably putting too much pressure into your brushing action.


Another telltale indicator that you’ve been brushing too hard – over a prolonged period of time – is that you may be able t see an exposed root – normally in your  that you may be brushing too hard is when you see an area of your roots , normally in your premolars, your first molars or your canine teeth.


All of these signs will normally be spotted by your dentist, which it's so important that you visit at least every six months. That way, no ‘bad habits’ are left unchecked for long, and you will get all the advice you need to treat your teeth the way they’d ask you to treat them – if only they could talk!


How hard is too hard?


As a good general rule of thumb (or rule of gum?), you should hold and use a toothbrush with the same level of pressure that you’d apply to a pen. It should be firm enough to make sure that you have full control of the brush – but not so firm that you're actually digging into the vulnerable gum area.


It’s worth pointing out that plaque is quite a soft substance, so it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to remove it. The hard tartar that your dentist removes is another kettle of fish, but this will simply not respond to brushing, so forget about it – that’s a job for your next visit to the surgery.


Some simple rules to put into practice.


  • Brush at least twice a day, preferably last thing at night and after your breakfast.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Small, gentle movements are best. Don’t look to brush too big an area at any one time.
  • Replace your brush as soon as it shows sign of being beaten out of shape.
  • Place a special emphasis on the space between the gum-line and tooth.
  • Stay focused on what you're doing, or else you’ll forget which sections of your mouth you’ve brushed and which are yet to be addressed.
  • If you’ve been eating sugary or acidic foods, wait for at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth.
  • Have a system, e.g. always start at top left and end at bottom right. fixed regime, e.g. start from top left to bottom right.
  • If you see signs of bleeding, stop brushing – and brush more gently the next time.


What results can I expect to see?


We can't over-emphasis how effective brushing is, and if you adhere to tall the guidelines above, there’s every chance that you’ll go through life without major dental work such as crowns or a dental bridge, for example.


If you should eventually need a dental treatment, however, you might like to know that we display our fees upfront – both on our website and in our offices – in keeping with the Code of Practice of Irish Dental Council




So whether it's a dental bridge cost or the cost of a crown or implant, you’ll know in advance what the treatment will cost you.