Brushing of teeth is a mechanical method of cleaning the teeth with help of a tooth brush. Regular cleaning of teeth is necessary to prevent deposition of plaque. Plaque is made up of bacteria, food particles and acid that gets deposited like a film on the teeth, usually at the junction with gums. Deposition of plaque is an important cause of erosion of tooth surface (enamel of tooth) leading to formation of dental cavities or dental caries.
It is recommended that every individual should brush teeth daily at least twice a day, once in morning preferably after breakfast and once at bedtime. This is because as soon as food enters mouth, the bacteria present in mouth start attacking it and producing acid. Brushing helps to remove left over food particles and the foam created by tooth paste washes away the residue of food and bacteria.
It is important to understand the correct method of brushing – first the tooth brush is rinsed under running water and a dollop of toothpaste is applied. Usually a large drop of toothpaste which covers half brush area of toothbrush is enough. For children a thin film of toothpaste is enough. It is recommended that tooth brush is held as a slight angle (about 45°) over teeth and brushing performed with slow, round movements vertically up and down. It should not be done horizontally. A light pressure on gums is good. Brushing should include external surface of teeth from centre to right and centre to left. It should be followed by gentle cleaning of inner surfaces of teeth also. Complete brushing includes cleaning of tongue gently with the brush. The toothbrush can be rinsed in between and finally mouth is rinsed with water. It is recommended not to rinse too vigorously as this will remove the protection provided by the film of tooth paste.
Toothbrushes should be changed every 3-6 months when their bristles start to look torn out. It is desirable to use toothbrush with soft bristles. One should use fluoridated toothpaste. In addition to brushing, in adults it is advisable to floss at least once a day at bedtime after brushing. The floss is meant to remove food particles between the adjacent teeth.