Most people brush their teeth the wrong way

brushing teeth the wrong way
She may well be doing it wrong.

Almost all Swedes brush their teeth, yet only one in ten does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay. Now researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, are eager to teach Swedes how to brush their teeth more effectively.

In two separate studies, Pia Gabre and her colleagues at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, studied the toothbrushing habits of 2013 Swedes aged 15-16, 31-35, 60-65 and 76-80 – how often and for how long, how often fluoride toothpaste is used, how much toothpaste is put on the toothbrush and how much water is used during and after the toothbrushing.

Good toothpaste behaviour identified as brushing at least twice a day, using at least one cm toothpaste, brushing two minutes or longer and using a small amount of water when rinsing was reported by only 10 per cent of the respondents.

‘Swedes generally do brush their teeth, but mostly because of social norms and to feel fresh rather than to prevent tooth decay,’ says Gabre.

Swedes could improve their oral health considerably by learning how to maximise the effect of fluoride toothpaste, according to Gabre.

Nevertheless, the study shows that 80 per cent are generally happy with how they take care of their teeth.

In summary, the study found:

  • 25 percent of Swedish teenagers do not brush their teeth regularly
  • women under age 35 are the best toothbrushers
  • about one Swede in four believes that the main task of fluoride is to keep the mouth fresh
  • over 70 per cent of adult Swedes have never been informed about the best way to use toothpaste
  • between 55 and 75 per cent rinse with water after brushing


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  1. When brushing without toothpaste has been proven to remove twice the amount of plaque, the benefits must be questioned of using toothpaste as other than breath freshener. Education to allow maximum plaque removal must include the recognition of the natural requirement of imitation of the chewing motion to compensate for modern diet. Lack of education must be viewed as sad indictment of a system failing to allow informed decision making of vulnerable fellow humans.


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