Research indicates that medical professionals, dental associations and toothpaste companies all disagree on the best way to take care of your teeth; the advice is frustratingly inconsistent, changing depending on its source. The general public needs sound, standardized information on the best way to brush one’s teeth, and right now, it seems no one is getting it.
A 2014 study published in the British Dental Journal surveyed the brushing advice provided by dental associations, toothpaste companies, and dental textbooks in ten different countries. The results indicated that the various sources offered a wide range of oral care recommendations on the topics of methods, frequency, and duration of brushing. There seemed to be no clear consensus on the topic, and there was an especially clear discrepancy between the advice offered by dental associations and the information contained within dental textbooks.
The most commonly recommended brushing technique is to move the brush back and forth in small, gentle motions to shake loose any food particles, plaque, bacteria, and other build-up. However, basic scrubbing may very well be just as effective as these methods; there is no evidence to the contrary. Gentle scrubbing while holding the brush in a pencil grip to avoid unnecessary roughness seems to be an effective way of keeping teeth and gums healthy. However, different sources offer different advice on this topic, making it very difficult for people to figure out what is truly the best method to use.
In addition to the best brushing method, the necessary frequency of brushing is also in dispute. Some sources say that you should brush after every meal; others say there is little point. These conflicting messages highlight the need for consistent brushing guidelines, which would require research into the effectiveness of different techniques. At the moment, there is no strong evidence that favours one method over another; in-depth research on the topic would hopefully solve this problem.
Without consistent information, it is very difficult for the general public to have a clear, well-rounded understanding of how to take care of their teeth. Many experts agree that there needs to be a method that is recommended consistently by all dental information resources, based solely on the efficacy of the method. Ideally, more consistent information would benefit everybody from the everyday toothbrush user to individual dentists to dental organizations around the world. The general public would have a better understanding of how to take care of their teeth, and dentists would find that their patients are more likely to trust their advice if it’s consistent with all of the other advice they’ve been given on how to take care of their teeth.