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How should patients be brushing their teeth?

The most important part of oral hygiene is, without a doubt, brushing your teeth. Speak to any dentist and they will explain that brushing should be done twice a day. However, few will be able to agree on the correct method of doing so. Some recommend gentle brushing, others rapid, small movements and there are many that have their own system they would recommend.

This is a bit of a problem, as it does not appear there is any clear consensus about the best method. This is not conjecture, either; a recent study was conducted at the University College London (UCL) that found a “worrying” lack of agreement between various dental authorities on the subject.

The researchers looked at evidence from ten different countries including dental textbooks, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and advice from a variety of dental associations. They found very little evidence of any consensus, with many parties giving completely different instructions.

Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health at UCL and senior author of the study, said: “The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth. If people hear one thing from a dental association, another from a toothbrush company and something else from their dentist, no wonder they are confused about how to brush.”

The researchers also found that, while a wide array of different brushing methods have been suggested by various authorities, no study has been able to prove any one of them to be any more effective than a basic scrub.

The only addendum Professor Sheiham made was that is is better to hold the brush at a 45-degree angle using a pencil grip. This makes it easier to reach plaque, while also being gentler on the gums. However, beyond this there is no need to go out of the way to brush in a particular manner.

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