The majority of problems with your teeth will be caused by bacteria. Bacteria making holes. Bacteria damaging your gums. Bacteria stinking up your breath.

So caring for your mouth involves cleaning away bacteria, keeping them off your teeth and keeping your teeth nice and strong.

Brushing your teeth is the way that we should all be familiar with to get the majority of bugs off your teeth. Let’s start by picking a toothbrush as you are going to struggle to brush your teeth without one. You have two main options; manual or electric.

Manual Toothbrush

If you want to go for a manual brush, that’s fine. You can get a really effective clean with a manual brush as long as you spend time on it and your technique is good. Lots of dentists talk about different techniques for brushing but what I mean by good technique is just being aware that EVERY surface of your teeth needs to be cleaned. This means the tops of the teeth, the outsides of the teeth and the insides. By insides I mean the tongue side of your lower teeth and palate side of your upper teeth. EVERY surface will trap plaque and EVERY surface is susceptible to decay so EVERY surface is important.

How should you be using the brush? If you’re after an action, drawing small circles on your teeth is better than a side-to-side scrubbing action. Scrubbing from side to side can be too rough on your gums and can cause them to shrink back. Instead, focus on drawing small circles with the head of the brush on each tooth. Think about getting the toothbrush head onto the gums as well as the teeth. This means you’re going to clean the margin between your gums and teeth which tends to build up a lot of plaque.

When picking a manual brush, you want the smallest head possible and medium hardness bristles. A small head will help you to get into the nooks and crannies more easily. My opinion is that a hard bristled brush is going to be too rough on your gums and a soft brush is just not strong enough to remove plaque. Keep it simple and go for a medium.

Here's a video on how to use a manual brush. It's aimed at children but you get the idea.

Electric Toothbrush

If you want to get an electric brush, fantastic! Although it is possible to get a very good clean with a manual brush, it is much easier with an electric alternative. The electric toothbrush does the hard work for you and as long as you apply it to all of the surfaces that matter (EVERY surface) it will do the bulk of the manual labour. There is a lot of information presented by different companies about why their toothbrush is the best but dentists are undecided. There are two main types. One is an electric brush with a rotating head that mechanically takes away the plaque. The other main type are the ‘sonic’ brushes that vibrate to remove bugs rather than rotate. Both can be very effective.

electric-tooth-brush-1

With whatever type of brush you use, remember to replace the head regularly. Splayed bristles will not work and hanging on to a brush beyond when it is being effective is not doing you any favours. Some brushes have coloured bristles to tell you when to change it. When all of the colour has gone from the bristles, it’s time to get a new one.

If you need a quick and simple guide to caring for your teeth, watch this video.

How often should you be brushing your teeth?

You must be doing it at least twice a day. The brush before you go to bed is the most important because if you go to bed with bacteria on your teeth, there is nothing to stop them working away all night to cause damage to your teeth and gums. I believe the brush in the morning should be the first thing you do. Lots of dentists don’t agree with this and think it’s better to brush after breakfast. I have no problem with this unless you are having fruit juice such as orange for breakfast. Fruit juices are extremely acidic and will soften the top layer of enamel on your teeth. The worst thing you can do straight after you have softened the enamel is brush your teeth. You will brush away that softened enamel and once that enamel is gone, you can never get it back.

Don’t believe any company that appears to claim their toothpaste will allow you to regrow the enamel. You can’t. So you need to be brushing at least twice a day. More often if you fancy but not straight after something acidic. You should give it at least half an hour if not longer. You need to be brushing for at least 2 minutes. Longer is better. Shorter is not great. If your toothbrush doesn’t have a timer, try a timer in the bathroom. You will be amazed at how long 2 minutes actually takes.

For tips when buying an electric toothbrush, read the article.

Our advice is based on evidence collected and reviewed by Public Health England.

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