Dental Health

Ask the Dentist: Tooth Brushing FAQs

The commonest oral health self-care practice is tooth brushing. It is performed by everyone of all ages, colour and race. Many people, however, wonder about the right time to begin brushing, the number of times to brush, what type of toothpaste or toothbrush to use etc.  If you have ever asked any of these questions, this article is specially written in order to answer your questions about toothbrushing. Here we go;

When should toothbrushing commence?

Toothbrushing should commence as soon as the first teeth appear using specially designed brushes for this purpose. These brushes have a very small head and few bristles. Some are designed to fit into the finger of an adult for ease of use. Before the appearance of the first teeth, cleaning may be done with a clean washcloth and water.

How often should I brush?

You should brush twice a day every day for two minutes each. This should be done last thing at night and after breakfast.

How long should I use my toothbrush?

Ideally, this should be 3months. However, when you notice that the bristles are no longer straight, it is time to get a new one. When the bristles of a brush are frayed, they are no longer effective in cleaning.

When can a child start brushing unsupervised by themselves?

When they are Eight years old. Before this age, little children should be assisted and older ones supervised. This is because they do not have the manual dexterity for effective toothbrushing.

What type of toothpaste is Best For me?

One that contains fluoride. Flouride is beneficial in preventing cavities in teeth. In toothpastes, it is present as sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate. Check for these ingredients when shopping for toothpaste.

What type of toothbrush is recommended?

A medium bristle strength toothbrush. A hard brush will cause wear of the hard dental Enamel resulting in exposure of the sensitive part of the tooth, resulting in dentine hypersensitivity(shocking teeth), and may also result in recession of the gum. For children, a soft brush is best. Sometimes a soft brush may be recommended by the dentist like in patients with gum inflammation and immediately after gum surgery.

What quantity of Paste should I use?

A pea size amount for adults and just a smear for children. Note that there are special toothpastes for children before their permanent erupt (usually 0-5years), these usually have a lower amount of fluoride, as although fluoride is beneficial for the teeth, it becomes harmful in excess amounts as could occur in children who are fond of licking and swallowing toothpastes.

Can Brushing remove all dirt from the teeth?

No there are specks of dirt which brushing alone cannot remove. These are usually lodged in areas where the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach like areas between the teeth and below the gum line. Use of Dental floss is important in removing dirt in between teeth. A periodic visit to the Dentist for evaluation and cleaning is necessary for complete removal of dirt from the mouth.


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Dr. Eureka Orhorhoro
Dr. Eureka Orhorhoro is an amazing Dentist, with a strong passion for Health Care Advancement in Nigeria. She believes that the right information is crucial in improving Oral health care and she is ready to make a global difference. she loves reading, baking & cooking.

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  1. well said… A lot of questions have been answered by this article.. Keep it up

    1. Thank you for your kind words Dr Odiase

  2. Dr I have a hole in my teeth and it is seriously aching me. What should I do to make it stop

    1. Hello Elvis please see a Dentist for proper evaluation and treatment

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