Barnton Dental Spa - Edinburgh


Why is it important to brush my teeth?

Cleaning and brushing the teeth on a daily basis is vital in order to remove the build-up of harmful plaque. If plaque is left to reside in the mouth it will feed on food debris remaining between the teeth after meals, having the potential to cause severe dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay.

How does plaque lead to decay?

Eating food with a high sugar content and/or starch promotes the development of plaque. Here’s how the build-up of plaque leads to decay:

  • The plaque contains bacteria which produce acids that are harmful to tooth enamel
  • The acids are kept in contact with the teeth due to the plaque being ‘sticky’
  • Once this process occurs numerous times tooth enamel starts to break down, leaving a cavity or hole in the tooth

How does this lead to gum disease?

  1. Once plaque hardens it becomes a substance known as calculus, or ‘tartar’
  2. As this starts to build up near the line of the gum toxins are released by the plaque
  3. This leads to irritation and inflammation of the gums
  4. As the gums draw away from the teeth the gaps between them (also known as pocket formations) start to get infected
  5. Gum disease needs to be treated quickly before the bone supporting the teeth becomes damaged
  6. There is a great risk of losing teeth if the gums are not treated effectively

Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss in adults and could lead to individuals requiring treatments like implants, bridges or dentures.

How can gum disease be prevented?

The only way to prevent gum disease is by ensuring that you remove any food debris and plaque from around and between the teeth. This will eliminate the risk of the gums becoming swollen and prone to infection.

Leaving plaque on the teeth is dangerous as it can develop into tartar, which requires removal treatment from a hygienist or dentist. Keeping up with regular dental appointments and check-ups is important as cleaning sessions are typically performed.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Gum disease, or ‘gingivitis’, is usually noticeable as the gums appear swollen and red. They will also bleed after being flossed or brushed. If you do notice bleeding it is important not to brush your teeth more softly, or less often. For the condition to be successfully fought regular, firm cleaning is required.

What type of brush should I be using?

For Adults

The best toothbrush suited to your particular needs will be recommended by a dental hygienist or dentist. As a general rule adults should use a small or medium sized brush with medium or soft, round-ended, multi-tufted bristles made of nylon (otherwise known as ‘filaments’). It should have a head that is small enough to reach all areas of the mouth, particularly at the back of the mouth as this is often the most difficult area to clean.

For Children

For children, the same sort of filaments should be used but the brush should be much smaller. There are now specialist toothbrushes available, such as ones with softer bristles for sensitive teeth. For those with irregular or crooked teeth brushes are available with smaller heads.

Other Types of Toothbrushes

There are also toothbrushes available that have angled heads and larger handles making them easier to hold. These are perfect for people who have difficulty holding a toothbrush due to conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

How often do toothbrushes need to be changed?

Toothbrushes should be replaced every two to three months at the very latest. They may need to be changed sooner if the bristles are badly worn. Filaments that are splayed are not effective at cleaning teeth and using a worn-out toothbrush can potentially promote gum disease if it is not cleaning your teeth correctly.

What is the best way of brushing?

The following method is a good way of getting rid of plaque from the biting area, as well as the inner and outer crevices of the teeth.

  • Angle the head of the brush against your gumline after placing it against your teeth. Move it in a small circular motion on each surface of every tooth
  • Angle the filaments of the brush against your gumline and brush the lower and upper outer surface on every tooth
  • Repeat this method for the inside surface of every tooth
  • Brush each chewing surface on your teeth
  • For the inner surfaces of your front teeth hold the toothbrush vertically and move it around several times in a small circle with the front section (toe) of the brush
  • Remove bacteria from the mouth by brushing the tongue. This will also help prevent bad breath

When should teeth be brushed?

Teeth need to be brushed thoroughly using fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, every day. It may be necessary to clean them more often if your dentist has advised this. You should make an appointment with your dentist if you have noticed bleeding or general discomfort after brushing your teeth.