Disclaimer: I am not an oral health professional, and I have no education on the topic other than scientific publications and my common sense. Please check with your dentist before changing anything in your routine.

Unfortunately, one of my very close relatives is a type two diabetic. If, at times, diabetes looks more like an inconvenience than a disease, don't be fooled. It's a severe illness that shortens life expectancy from 5 to 10 years with various side effects. In the case of my relative, it was a periodontal disease. In short, the gum retracts and gets infected. As a result, tooth moves, and some may even fall.

But you know what they said. When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade!

This is what we say right?

So let's review the dental hygiene best practices.

Why do we brush our teeth?

Dental plaque is the starting point of the vast majority of gum and tooth diseases. It's is made of saliva, food residues, and bacteria that will cover the teeth and gum. It's called a biofilm. After some time, this plaque will turn to tartar.

However, conventional tooth brushing cannot remove tartar, and once it is there, you will need to see a dentist to address the situation.

In practice, plaque turns sugar into acid, which will cause tooth decay. Tartar will lead to inflammation that will attack the bone (yummy). The more plaque and tartar you have, the less effective your toothbrushing is. Therefore, more and more issues will start to appear.

Consequently, the whole point of brushing our teeth is to prevent plaque from installing before it turns to tartar. More realistically, since you cannot be perfect every time, the point of brushing our teeth is to prevent enough plaque from turning to tartar, so we don't get any issues before our next dentist appointment.

That's why you must check-up with your dentist at least once a year.

How many times a day?

Oral health professionals agree on the following: Twice a day for at least two minutes.

Please note that when under a minute, brushing is nearly useless.

Is flossing required?

There is no firm consensus on the topic, and even if many professionals seem to recommend it firmly, most of the sources I found seem to agree that it is ineffective.

Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?

Sources and my own experience show that an electric toothbrush must have and help compensate for our poor brushing technique.

This article states that an electric toothbrush removes 21% more plaque than the manual one!

What about fluoride in toothpaste?

Since toothpaste is a product I put in my mouth multiple times a day, I wanted to question their composition.

Unfortunately, I discovered that this topic was way above my biochemistry skill, so I will only state the obvious.

A toothpaste at its core is :

  • Water
  • Abrasive to help mechanical action to remove the dental plaque

Most of the pastes add fluoride as it's proven that it helps reduce the risk of cavities.

However, manufacturers add a ton of other products to differentiate from their competitors—for instance, whiteners, breath fresheners, and so on.

I will personally stick to the simplest: Water + Abrasive + Fluoride.

How should I brush my teeth?

Now that we know everything there is to know about brushing, it's time to learn the proper technique!

The secret ingredient is to brush not perpendicular to the teeth but with a 45 degrees angle toward the gum. And since our proprioception is quite unprecise for these kinds of things, you need to accentuate the angle so that you have the impression to brush upward for the upward teeth and downward for the downward ones!

Here is a proper tutorial :

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_hygiene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_plaque

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_periodontal_diseases

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19723429/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12716332/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_floss#Efficacy

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002281.pub3/full

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002279.pub2/full

https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7253_Fluoride_Facts.pdf