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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Treat your teeth right

A guide to choosing a toothbrush that is best for your teeth
The Straits Times - December 15, 2011
By: Lea Wee
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Treat your teeth right -- ST PHOTO.

To clean your teeth thoroughly, you need the right tool -– a good toothbrush. And this means one which has soft bristles, say dental surgeons here.

You might think that medium or hard bristles would do a better job of scrubbing, but they are not good for you in the long run.

“Bristles which are too hard can traumatise the gum and cause it to recede,” said Dr Edwin Heng, vice-president of the Singapore Dental Association.

This exposes more root surface and can cause root sensitivity, said Dr Heng, a gum specialist at Ko Djeng Dental Centre.

Soft bristles are flexible and can reach in between teeth easily, said Dr Asha Karan, a dental surgeon at Smile Makers Dental Clinic.

As the bristles are soft, there is also less risk of injuring the gum.

Another key feature of a good toothbrush is a brush head that is small enough to reach the back corners of the mouth, said Dr Karan.

Look for one between 2cm and 2.5cm long. You may also want to look for one which has longer bristles at the tip, for the difficult-to-reach teeth at the back of the mouth, said Dr Lee Leing, a specialist in general dental surgery at Raffles Dental.

Children should use toothbrushes with heads in appropriate sizes. They come in different sizes for different age groups.

Here are some other toothbrushes with special uses:

• Extra-soft toothbrushes

These have very soft bristles and are suitable for people with hyper-sensitive teeth.

• Orthodontic toothbrushes

Those wearing braces may find it difficult to remove food trapped between the braces and the teeth. An orthodontic toothbrush has bristles which are indented in the middle, that easily clean around the brace brackets.

• Interdental brushes

This toothbrush, if used correctly, can remove plaque on the surfaces of the teeth and along the gumline, where the teeth and the gum meet. Plaque is a biofilm of bacteria that sticks to the teeth and can cause gum disease and tooth decay. This toothbrush has cone-shaped bristles which can go between the wires of orthodontic braces and the teeth.

 Unlike dental floss, which cleans tight spaces between teeth, the interdental brush is more suitable for cleaning between wider spaces.

 To accommodate the varying width of spaces between teeth, the bristles of interdental brushes have different levels of thickness.

• Electric toothbrush

Studies show there is no significant advantage of using an electric toothbrush over a regular one. But it may be useful for people who lack the dexterity to handle a manual toothbrush. They include the elderly and people who are physically handicapped or have crippling medical conditions such as arthritis.



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