Frequently Asked Questions

General

How often should I brush my teeth?


It depends on who you are. You should brush your teeth regularly. Most dental experts say twice a day. In the morning and the night. In some situations, like if the person finds toothbrushing difficult or needs a lot of help to brush their teeth well, this does not work out very well. For this reason it is sometimes better to brush once a day, with the emphasis on spending the right length of time, using the right brush and of course, the right technique. In specific situations it may be best to brush once every two days. If you have any doubts talk to a dental care professional.




What type of toothbrush should I use to help other adults brush their teeth?


​It depends on which toothbrush is best for that person. Some people have no issues with toothbrushing and you could use any type of brush. Some people love gadgets so an electric toothbrush might work best. Sometimes the vibration is pleasant for people with hypersensitivity. On average, according to a recent Cochrane Review, Special Toothbrushes like Barmann's Special are better at removing plaque from teeth than other brushes, particularly if used by a carer. These toothbrushes require a specific technique to sue so make sure and check out our videos to show you how to use them. So think about the relevant paoints about the specific person and weigh up the positives and negatives of different options. Don't forget you can always contact a Dental Healthcare Professional for advice.




What if a person is unable to decide about brushing their teeth?


If people choose not to brush their teeth, that is their decision and must be respected. However, there is more to this issue. Sometimes people need help to make decisions and other times people need to have decisions made on their behalf. This happens when a person lacks capacity to make the decision. You can use the videos on this website and our handouts to help inform the person and others of what is involved. If it is decided to not brush someone's teeth, it is important that the benefits and negatives are carefully balanced to come to a best decision with or for the person who needs help deciding.




Do I have to brush teeth?


No - You are free to do what you want. Of course, when you choose to brush your teeth you get many benefits. Here is three good reasons why toothbrushing is important. Firstly, it is THE number one way of maintaining a healthy mouth. Bugs that live on your teeth mature over three days to cause a swelling reaction in your gums. This causes gum disease, loose teeth and tooth loss. The effective removal of this plaque is key to preventing and even treating this infection. Secondly, toothbrushing prevents tooth decay. The bugs on your teeth love sugar. This sugar comes from your diet. When these bugs eat sugar they excrete (poo) acid. This acid melts your tooth causing a hole that we call a cavity. Toothbrushing removes many of these bugs so they can not start this process. Fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush even helps reverse and prevent these holes. Lastly, toothbrushing helps you freshen your breath and smile with clean teeth and healthy looking gums.




What type of toothbrush should I use?


It depends on who you are. Most evidence suggests that electric toothbrushes might be better than standard brushes for people without disabilities. Still, most people use standard toothbrushes. Probably because they are cheaper, easily replaced and what people are used to. For people with disabilities there is no strong evidence that electric toothbrushes are better than standard brushes on average. Nevertheless, some people really like them. If in doubt talk to a dental care professional.




Do I need help brushing my teeth?


The sorry truth is that we are all pretty bad at brushing our teeth. Even the best patients can miss about a third of their tooth surfaces when brushing. Children too are advised to have their teeth cleaned and later have supervision when brushing. There are lots of different ways in which we can get help. It may be as simple as watching a video, right up to having our teeth cleaned completely on our behalf. If you feel that you need help brushing – ask for it. If you feel that someone you care for needs help, offer it or ask someone to help. Often there is a need to balance the need for health and the need for independence. If in doubt talk to a dental care professional.




What if a person is unable to decide about brushing their teeth?


If people choose not to brush their teeth, that is their decision and must be respected. However, there is more to this issue. Sometimes people need help to make decisions and other times people need to have decisions made on their behalf. This happens when a person lacks capacity to make the decision. You can use the videos on this website and our handouts to help inform the person and others of what is involved. If it is decided to not brush someone's teeth, it is important that the benefits and negatives are carefully balanced to come to a best decision with or for the person who needs help deciding. If in doubt talk to a dental care professional.




Should I change my toothbrushing technique?


Yeah, probably. Most of us are not great at brushing our teeth. If your toothbrushing technique is not effective at cleaning your teeth then you should change either your toothbrush, technique or how long and often you brush. Evidence suggests that some electric toothbrushes are better than normal toothbrushes when you brush your own teeth. Special brushes seem to work best for people with disabilities, though we are not really sure. Why not look at our different videos to get some ideas.




Which video should I watch?


This depends on which technique works best for you. That means which technique is cleanest, quickest and safest for you. This might mean making changes! If you decide to use a normal toothbrush then you should watch Video 1, 2 or 3 depending on how much help you need. If your brush is electric, then you should use videos 4,5 or 6. If you use a special brushes then you should look at videos 7,8 or 9.




Do I need to do exactly what the video tells me to?


No. Everybody has their own way of cleaning their teeth, and what works for you may not work for others. So feel free to adapt the principles in the videos to plan your oral care. We have demonstrated techniques that are based on evidence. This means that what we demonstrate might give you the best chance of getting it right.




How do I know if my toothbrushing is good?


Good toothbrushing removes bugs from the tooth, is safe and does not take too long. The easiest way of checking if your teeth are clean after brushing is to look at your teeth before and after toothbrushing. They should look cleaner afterwards. However, if you really want to see if your teeth are clean, get some disclosing tablets or use disclosing paste. These stain the dirty parts of your teeth blue or red. Be prepared to be shocked at how dirty your teeth actualy are!




My gums bleed when I brush my teeth - seriously?


Sometimes good toothbrushing causes a little bleeding from the gum, exactly at the line where the gum and tooth meet. This normally means that the toothbrush has cleaned a swollen piece of gum. That is exactly what will make that gum better! However, just check that you are not brushing too hard or causing bleeding in other parts of the mouth. Check with your dental professional if you are unsure.




How hard should I brush?


You should only brush your teeth hard enough to remove the plaque without scrubbing away the gum. This is about the same pressure as it takes to start your fingernail going white when you press it. If you brush your teeth too hard you could hurt your gums. A good guide is to checl your toothbrush. If the bristles go flat within a few weeks then you are probably brushing too hard. Remember, good technique is mostly about placing the bristles in the right place not about muscles!




How long should I brush for?


This depends. Most dentists say two minutes for most people. However, for some people with disabilities this can be a lot longer or even a lot shorter.




What do I do if I find it hard to hold the brush?


There are specific techniques to extend the function of people who have difficulties with dexterity, strength and muscle memory. Examples include sticking your toothbrush inside a tennis ball, or a foam tube. Google them and try them out.




Can a child use these videos?


Yes, these videos are suitable for adaptation with children. Just use what works.





Healthy Teeth for Everybody

Brushmyteeth.ie is a website dedicated to improving the oral health of everybody. We particularly want t help people who find mouth cleaning difficult. Help us spread the joy of clean mouths and healthy smiles by spreading the good word.

© 2018 brushmyteeth.ie

Web Site Updated 5th March 2020

Web Site Developed by Nursing Dept, St Michael's House