Dental hygiene

„Measure twice, cut once.”

This old Slovak proverb well describes the essentials of dental and oral cavity care; as the most successful dental care is prevention. Prevention does not include only regular cleaning of teeth, but predominantly proper cleaning of teeth. The prevention does not mean only to come for dental check-ups and dental hygienist appointments in acute cases, it means regular and preventive check-ups with these experts in teeth.

The success of proper brushing of teeth lies in mastering a technique which is individual for every person. Appropriate brushing technique must include a thorough removal of dental plaque and this must be performed in such a way that one does not damage his or her hard tissue of teeth or gum surrounding the teeth. Most importantly, every person must choose the technique which will be acceptable for them.

It is important to brush teeth after getting up in the morning and before going to bed in the evening. Hence, we must refute the myth that it is necessary to brush teeth after each meal. Such tooth brushing (mainly mechanical, e. i. with a toothbrush) is not only ineffective but in reality damages the tooth. After meal, pH in the mouth falls towards more acidic values which make the surface of the enamel significantly more sensitive. If we add mechanical ‚scrubbing‘ after meal, we may easily cause some tooth or gum disease.

The next important parameter in proper dental care is choosing the right toothbrush. To swallow the hook of advertisement story tellers and buy a toothbrush based on which commercial break you see on television most often, certainly does not pay off.  Many advertised toothbrushes absolutely do not or just minimally meet standards of a quality toothbrush. Hence, it is easy to choose, look for a toothbrush which has:

  • small toothbrush head
  • soft and dense fibers (ideally made from synthetic fibers with rounded tips)

Once you choose your toothbrush, remember to follow several rules:

  • do not put too much pressure on your teeth, soft pressure is sufficient for a quality cleaning
  • change your toothbrush at least once in three months in order to prevent cumulation of microorganisms
  • change your toothbrush after illness since it can be a source of recurring infection
  • do  not leave your toothbrush on the washbasin and certainly not with the head pressed against the washbasin sink as the fibers must get dry between uses to prevent the cumulation of microorganisms

Even today many parents see their children to the bathroom every morning and evening with the sentence „Do not forget to scrub your teeth”.  Acoording to dental care experts tooth scrubbing is absolutely inconvenient. The correct technique involves a combination of circular motions up the gumline, e. i. the area between the tooth and the gum. It is also important to clean up chewing surfaces as well as interdental spaces.

If a person wishes to learn how to brush their teeth effectively, we strongly recommend to recieve individual instruction at the dentist. Every person has their own oral cavity characteristics and therefore it is advised to adjust the procedure to one’s own needs. Thus any generalization is not only inappropriate but in many cases it can lead to various kinds of damage.

As for the toothpaste and its selection, the expert opinions differ. The most commonly held opinion is to use only a bit of toothpaste, in the size of a pea, since it is the cleaning technique which is more important. Even if such small amount of toothpaste is used, care should be taken to its selection since some tothpastes can do more harm than good. When buying a toothpaste it is recommended to pay attention to the RDA (relative dentin abrasivity) value which determines how much the toothpaste composition abrases the dentine. If this value is too high, the toothpaste will cause more damage than benefit. The RDA value should ideally be under 30 but this is currently followed by only a minimal number of commonly sold toothpastes.