How to brush your teeth correctly

Learn how to use a toothbrush correctly
Learn how to use a toothbrush correctly

If you want to do the job properly, you need the right equipment. But it's sometimes difficult choosing the right brand - after all you cannot test-drive a toothbrush. Here are some handy tips on how to choose a toothbrush with dash.

Remember when toothbrushes were a matter of colour choice? Well nowadays, with all the modern technology that goes into the design, it's almost as though you need a prescription to find one to do the job. Regular brushing is the most important component of oral care, but choosing the right toothbrush is also vital. Used effectively and replaced regularly, it can prevent gum disease by removing plaque and, by brushing with a good fluoride toothpaste, it helps protect teeth against decay.

In the early days, some toothbrushes were made from horse's hair, but these were condemned by the experts of the day as being too rough. By the end of the eighteenth century, toothbrushes assumed the shape we are familiar with today and bristles became the main material for brushes. The size and shape of your toothbrush should allow you to reach every tooth comfortably.

Which toothbrush should I choose?

  • Firstly, make sure your choice has proven clinical credentials.
  • Choose medium to soft, polished nylon, round-tipped bristles. The bristles should be firm enough to remove the plaque effectively, but not damage the gums.
  • Select a smaller rather than a bigger head, so that it's easy to manoeuvre around your mouth, without damaging the gums. The size of your mouth should determine the size of your toothbrush.
  • The shape of the handle, cut of the bristles and angle at which the head is attached, don't really matter.
  • Buy according to price, and keep two to three new brushes around. Don't get too attached to your toothbrush, it will need replacing every two to four months.
  • If some condition limits your dexterity, or you're into high-tech gadgets, or if you're trying to motivate your child to brush, you might want to invest in an electric toothbrush. They are expensive, but they do give you a good scrub.
  • Electric toothbrushes effortlessly loosen and dispense plaque with high frequency micro-movements. The thousands of vibrations per second allow for accurate brushing and less trauma for sensitive gums. This is the lazy man's way of brushing.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Your toothbrush needs replacing when the bristles start splaying or bending. According to the South African Dental Association, toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months. Once the bristles bend, they cannot clean your teeth properly and may injure your gums.

Tip: Store your toothbrush in a place where it will dry quickly. Don't store it in a toothbrush box, or in water after you have finished brushing.

The right way to brush

  • Apply toothpaste to the bristles.
  • Start with the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth at the gum line.
  • Brush either in circular motions or upwards and downwards.
  • Make sure to brush all the chewing surfaces thoroughly.
  • Hold the brush vertically to reach the inside surfaces of the front teeth.
  • Be sure that the head of the brush is not too large to reach into the back of the mouth.

Source: South African Dental Association (SADA). Contact: SADA on 011-484-5288 or share-call 0860-110-725 or email:

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