By Ntwatwa Lule
Over the years, the toothbrush has been remodelled into a small brush with a handle, which if used effectively and routinely, can clean the teeth, including the hard-to-reach areas.
The toothbrush can reduce the amount of plaque (a coating), which builds up naturally on the teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay.
How to brush
Brush in a systematic way as this helps you clean all the teeth. Start in the same place each time and go through the same motions.
Remember to brush the inner surface as well. Take the same amount of time to brush the tongue as well as the inner cheeks.
Be gentle. The teeth and surrounding gums are delicate and should be handled gently. Hard-brushing can tear the gums and cause the teeth to recede. This can result in sensitive teeth.
Do not brush hurriedly. Brush carefully for about five to six minutes and ensure you cover all the areas.
Squeeze the toothpaste onto the bristles and make sure it does not fall off into the mouth as it would cease to serve its purpose.
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. It should be strong enough to remove the plague, but not too stiff to damage the teeth and gums.
Brush vertically and in circular motions. Long horizontal strokes along the gum line can lead to abrasions. Aim the bristles at 45 degrees and use short strokes.
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If the bristles look like a bunch of flowers after only two weeks, this means the toothbrush can damage the teeth and surrounding structures. Some toothbrushes have colour indicators that alert you when the brush needs replacement.
Be careful when buying toothpaste. There are various types of toothpaste ranging from desensitisers to teeth whiteners. Consult a dentist on the type of toothpaste that suits you and your family.
The writer is a dentist at Y.K.Lule Memorial Dental Clinic