Conscientious tooth-brushers learned the awful truth today: their tedious marathons at the basin may do more harm than good.
Well meaning health propaganda could be leading people to brush too hard for too long, to the detriment of gums and even enamel, according to university researchers. Hours of tests on brushing and scrubbing volunteers have found that more than two minutes triggers a risk of damage to gums, particularly if the toothbrush user presses too hard.
"Once you go beyond approximately that point you aren't being any more effective than if you had stopped," said Peter Heasman, professor of periodontology (the study of structures surrounding and supporting teeth) at Newcastle University. "You could actually be harming your gums and
possibly your teeth.
Prof Heasman, whose school of dental science reported three years ago that two out of three Britons could not use a toothbrush properly, called for clearer advice from dentists. Timing the morning and evening sessions was essential, he said, although getting the pressure right was
harder and might prove a long, error-strewn exercise.
"It is virtually impossible for the average user to gauge how much pressure they are applying,"
said Prof Heasman. His best advice was to compare the ideal pressure, 150 grams, with the weight of an orange. Holding an orange in one hand and brushing with the other is impractical and possibly embarrassing, however, the study accepts.
Prof Heasman meanwhile offered his five tips for ivory castles:
get the shape of your brush right.
and change it when it gets manky.
check your technique with the dentist.
do not scrub, brush; floss or use interdental brushes;
and brush on the two minutes/150 grams formula at least once a day.