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Section Questions and Answers

Toothbrushes

 
What kind of toothbrush should I use?

  • Here are the characteristics of a good toothbrush:
    • The toothbrush should have a head that is small enough and correctly angled to reach all the teeth.
    • A toothbrush should be multi-tufted, and have a medium/soft texture.
    • Hard bristles can damage teeth and gums, and are not recommended.
    • The bristles should be made of nylon, and their ends need to be rounded.
    • Bristles made from synthetic rather than natural materials, are preferable for hygienic reasons. Natural bristles may be porous and likely to absorb bacteria.

 
Are all toothbrushes made to the same design?

  • There is a large selection of toothbrushes:
    • Some have bristles arranged in patterns that reach the greatest possible area of tooth surface.
    • Others are designed for cleaning between the teeth, and along the gum margins.
    • Yet another design is made with a row of coloured bristles that fade with use, and thereby indicate that the brush needs replacing.

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Toothbrush bristles
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Various toothbrushes

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What type of toothbrush is suitable for children?

  • A toothbrush with a small head is recommended, so that children can use it easily, and it will not cause gagging when they brush their back teeth.
  • The handle should have the correct length and thickness. It must be easy to use and provide a firm grip.
  • Toothbrushes can easily be modified if difficulty is experienced with a regular brush.
  • Brushes for children often have handles and heads that are brightly coloured, and show cartoon characters. Brushing needs to be a fun experience!

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Toothbrushes for children
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Modified toothbrushes

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How often should your toothbrush be changed?

  • The toothbrush should be changed at the first sign of wear.
    • The bristles may become flattened and lose their shape.
    • Bristles wear differently from person to person depending on how the toothbrush is used.
    • Plaque removal becomes less efficient with an old worn toothbrush.
    • It is recommended that you to change your toothbrush every four to six months.

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Should I share my toothbrush with another member of the family?

  • Toothbrushes should not be shared as they can harbour infectious bacteria.
    • Using the same toothbrush can transmit hepatitis and other diseases.
    • Mothers should not share their toothbrushes with their children.
    • The initial immunity to infection that the child shares with the mother does not last indefinitely.
    • Toothbrushes should also be kept separately, as an added precaution.

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Are electric toothbrushes recommended by dentists?

  • Electric toothbrushes have proven to be very successful in maintaining good oral health, and removing plaque.
    • The action of the brush is more efficient than the manual brush for cleaning teeth.
    • Electric toothbrushes are recommended for the elderly and people with arthritis or other disabilities, who may find it difficult to manage with a manual toothbrush.
    • Children enjoy the fun of using an electric toothbrush. It will result in a more thorough cleaning of their teeth, particularly at an early age.
    • As they grow older it may be less important to use an electric toothbrush.
    • It is effective with fixed orthodontic appliances.
    • Remember that the cleaning of teeth will only be successful, if the motivation exists to have healthy teeth and gums.
    • Electric toothbrushes may provide interest and motivation for people who are reluctant to brush their teeth properly.
    • Consult your dentist and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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