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As science makes magnificent advances in the fields of space travel, autonomous technology and artificial intelligence, you would think we would have figured out mundane things like tooth brushing quite a long back. Unfortunately, that is not true. There is still quite a bit of controversy as to the ideal method of brushing, type of brush, frequency of brushing, timing of brushing, age at which to start brushing and the hardness of the bristles themselves. Brushing your teeth incorrectly results in harm to the teeth and the gums, some of which may require a lot of treatment to correct. Our ideas on all of these aspects have evolved through observation and studies in experimental animals and these are the currently accepted recommendations.
When Should Humans Begin Brushing Their Teeth?
This section is — of course — for young parents or soon-to-be parents, because if you can read this then you should have been brushing for a long time already! The first teeth start appearing in the mouth at around the age of six months and this is exactly when you should start brushing your baby's teeth.
A lot of parents are reluctant to start brushing their baby's teeth at an early age, because of misconceptions about the teeth being soft or a fear of injury to the gums. The trick is to take your time and to be gentle so that you do not cause injury, however the teeth must be cleaned as soon as they erupt.
How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?
Everyone will have heard to brush their teeth twice a day, from their dentist, teacher, or parents at some point in their lives. Not once a day or thrice a day, but twice. Very few, however, would be able to answer why this is so. The answer behind this is steeped in science.
Research discovered that plaque starts forming around the teeth the instant we are done brushing, so it is futile to brush even 10 times a day to prevent this plaque build up. Actually, we do not even need to prevent plaque build up — all we need to do is to remove it periodically before it starts turning pathogenic. Since salivary flow is decreased at night, plaque build-up reaches a maximum at night, and hence the phenomenon of morning breath and the need to brush. The advice to brush your teeth at night, before going to sleep, serves to ensure a minimum amount of food particles (fuel source for bacteria) are present in the mouth during this decreased period of salivation.