Use these researched techniques to get those gum lines cleared of plaque!
When it comes to brushing your teeth, here’s a piece of advice you may never have heard: don’t focus on your teeth.
Instead, think more about your gums, particularly the border where teeth meet gums.
A recent BBC series exploring the consequences of hidden gum disease pieced together information from leading experts and recent studies, and determined the best scientific advice for the cleanest teeth possible. They counseled that the more obvious concentration on scrubbing your teeth may not be the right one. Josefine Hirschfeld, academic clinical lecturer in restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham, tells the BBC we should all focus on the gumline.
“Think of brushing your gumline, rather than the teeth themselves,” she says. “The teeth will then be brushed automatically.”
The goal in brushing focuses on removing the biofilm of plaque from both teeth and gums, not allowing bacteria, fungi and viruses to grow in what is the second-greatest biodiverse home in the human body after the gut. To make that happen, you’ve got to brush your teeth—or gums, as it were—correctly.
Several techniques for brushing exist, each with an official name. You may be best served to learn the modified Bass technique when it comes to brushing your teeth. Of course, the modified Stillman, with its addition of some sweeping motions, can come in handy too. But maybe leave the Fones method out of your twice-daily tooth-brushing routine.
Here’s Why the Modified Bass Technique May Be the Best.
In this method, you turn the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and then perform small circles full of vibration that flicks the toothbrush away from the gum line. Follow this up on every surface of the tooth. Of course, adding in the modified Stillman allows for some sweeping motions away from the gumline, a welcome break in the routine.
For those taught the 90-degree angle circular motion style known as the Fones method, know this may be easier to actually do each day physically, but it likely isn’t clearing the gumline as fully.
Make sure you’re not manhandling your brush in a way that micro-damages the gums or the tooth’s enamel. Some electric brushes even include a pressure gauge to alert you to your level of force. The goal is to protect the gums, not traumatize them.
Think About Your Tool of Choice …
Your toothbrush of choice should have medium-sized bristles. A small brush head could help you stay nimble during those modified Bass circles. An electric toothbrush may prove the most beneficial, though, with the built-in vibration a helpful tool.
The American Dental Association , the UK’s National Health Service, and a variety of other dental experts recommend brushing for at least two minutes, twice daily. With the average brushing length dropping likely as low as 45 seconds, or even closer to 30 seconds, depending on which study you’d like to read, most folks need to increase time spent brushing. After all, the longer you brush, the better chance you have of removing all the biofilm. And if you were a perfect brusher, two minutes once a day could be enough. But we just aren’t all perfect, so best to go for twice per day.
Some electric brushes may include a timer, but you can always just opt for the timer on your phone to help ensure the full two minutes gets met. For those overachievers, anything more than twice a day—unless you have braces and need to clear food out after each meal—may be overkill and increase the risk of injuring gums or enamel over time.
… And When You Brush
Brushing morning and night is best. You can either brush before breakfast or after for your first of the day. Brushing after breakfast can help eliminate food remnants, but the acid in food can soften the teeth, which saliva self-repairs. If you don’t wait 60 minutes following eating, you may be brushing away that helpful saliva.
Brushing before bed is a must-do, cleaning off any plaque that’s formed throughout the day and eliminating the bacteria-forming risk overnight when the saliva flow is lowest.
Tooth enamel is one of the hardest tissues in nature—almost as hard as a diamond. That sure is sturdy, but acid is its kryptonite. Saliva can help with self-repair, but you can also look for fluoride content in your toothpaste—1,350 parts per million for adults, Hirschfeld says. And some studies, according to the BBC report, say baking soda also helps remove plaque.
When it comes to additional gum-care techniques, flossing adds an extra weapon against plaque. And mouthwash as a beneficial addition but can’t serve as a replacement.
At its core, tooth protection equals gum protection. It all comes down to the proper modified Bass technique.