The bacteria caused by poor oral hygiene can kill off nerve cells once they reach the brain. Picture:Boxer Ngwenya

London - A new European study has found that, despite years of advice, people still don’t clean their teeth properly.

Professor Pia Gabre of the University of Gothenburg led two studies into the toothbrushing habits of more than 2 000 Swedes aged 15 to 16, 31 to 35, 60 to 65 and 76 to 80.

They were asked various dental care questions like how long they brushed for and how much toothpaste they used.

The researchers were aghast to discover 90 percent of the Swedish population did not clean their teeth in the most effective way.

Many failed to brush twice a day, while others rinsed out their mouths afterwards, so diluting the protective effect of the fluoride toothpaste.

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

“Most learned to brush their teeth as children, from their parents. Even if they have been informed about more effective techniques later in life, they continue to brush their teeth like they always have.”

The researchers concluded that knowledge about tooth-brushing must be improved and that the provided advice must be made simpler, clearer and more easy to use.

Despite their shortcomings, 80 percent of Swedes were generally happy with how they took care of their teeth.

Dentists recommend using a toothbrush with a small head as it’s easier to get into all the nooks and crannies. Most people should opt for a medium or soft brush.

Meanwhile, the best technique during brushing is a circular action rather than scrubbing up and down, taking time to reach areas at the very back of the mouth where bacteria can accumulate.

Teeth should be cleaned for a minimum of two minutes twice a day.

Toothpaste should contain fluoride at a concentration of at least 1 350ppm. Most leading brands will contain these levels.

Flossing between teeth is important to remove a build-up of detritus. - Daily Mail


* Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45° angle against the gum line. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.

* Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line.

* Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.

* Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

* To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the toe (the front part) of the brush.

* Brush your tongue to freshen your breath and to remove bacteria.