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Tooth Brushing and Toothpaste

Tooth brushing is almost universally recognised as having some use as a means of preventing tooth decay, especially if it is accompanied by toothpaste containing moderate quantities of fluoride. However, surveys of advice given around the world by dentists seem to indicate a lack of uniformity about the best method of using a toothbrush and in some cases, the advice can be contradictory.

The main value of brushing with a toothbrush –plaque removal

The main justification for using a toothbrush is that it can prevent the build up of plaque on the outside of the teeth. Plaque is a mixture of food remains, bacteria and the decomposition products of bacteria. It is quite sticky and tends to collect where a toothbrush is not always easy to get to – especially close to the gum line and at the backs of the teeth and in the recesses or hollows in the back teeth, or molars.

The bacteria in plaque and on the surface of teeth generally allow acids from the bacteria to start eroding the hard enamel which protects the interior of the teeth. Once the enamel has been removed, usually in a small pit or cavity, the bacterial action then progressively starts to destroy the next layer – the dentine and may eventually find its way to the interior of the tooth and cause more serious tooth decay.

The logic of this is that brushing with toothpaste must be sufficient to remove as much plaque as possible. Most dentists, including your dentist in Burlington, Ontario agree that brushing twice a day or after a meal will be sufficient. The brushing action should concentrate on the area close to the gums and as much of the backs of the teeth and tops of the molars as possible.

Value of fluoride containing toothpaste

Toothpaste by itself without fluoride contains little of much use except flavourings and a pleasant aroma which helps to mask any more unpleasant odours in the mouth. However, fluoride can provide real benefits as long as the recommended doe is not exceeded. The fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on the outside of teeth and therefore prevent cavity formation and tooth decay.