A European study has found that while almost all Swedes brush their teeth, only one in 10 does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay.
Prof. Pia Gabre from the University of Gothenburg, led two studies into the tooth brushing habits of more than 2,000 Swedes aged 15-16, 31-35, 60-65 and 76-80.
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% of the 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 Prof. Pia Gabre.
“Most of the interviewed subjects learned to brush their teeth as children, by 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 British Dental Association recommends 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 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 1,350 ppm. Most leading brands will contain these levels.
Flossing between teeth is important to remove a build up of detritus.
Despite their shortcomings, 80% of Swedes were generally happy with how they took care of their teeth.
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.