Study finds highly inconsistent recommendations on toothbrushing

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Study finds highly inconsistent recommendations on toothbrushing


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There is no clear consensus about the best toothbrushing technique between various sources. (Photograph: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Wed. 13 August 2014


LONDON – A comparison of advice on toothbrushing for adults and children given by dental companies, textbooks and dental associations has found that recommendations on brushing method, frequency and duration vary to an unacceptable degree. The researchers cautioned that such inconsistencies confuse dental patients and undermine trust in the dental profession as a whole.

“The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth,” said study author Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health at University College London. “If people hear one thing from a dental association, another from a toothbrush company and something else from their dentist, no wonder they are confused about how to brush.”

Overall, the most commonly recommended method was the modified Bass technique, which involves gently jiggling the toothbrush back and forth to shake loose food particles. However, there is no scientific evidence that this method is more effective than basic scrubbing with the brush held at an angle of 45 degrees, Sheiham said. In order to avoid brushing too hard, patients should hold the brush with a pencil grip rather than a fist, he recommended.

In addition, the analysis showed that the method recommended by dental companies differed from advice given by dental associations, as did advice in dental textbooks and research-based sources. In addition, the researchers found a wide difference in the toothbrushing methods recommended for adults and children.

Sheiham further pointed out that dental associations in particular should provide consistent guidelines on toothbrushing. However, the current lack of agreement can be attributed to the lack of strong evidence suggesting that one method is conclusively better than another. Thus, better research into what toothbrushing technique is the most effective and easiest to learn is needed.

The study, titled “An analysis of methods of toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental texts”, was published online on 8 August in the British Dental Journal ahead of print. It included toothbrush and toothpaste companies, dental textbooks and dental associations in ten countries.

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