Advice on how to brush teeth ‘unacceptably inconsistent’

New research has found that advice on how to brush teeth from dental associations and toothpaste companies is ‘unacceptably inconsistent’.

A UCL study looked at the brushing advice given by dental associations across 10 countries, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental textbooks. It found a wide range of recommendations on what brushing method to use, how often to brush and for how long.

The researchers found no clear consensus between the various sources, and a ‘worrying’ lack of agreement between advice from dental associations compared to dental textbooks.

‘The public needs to have sound information on the best method to brush their teeth,’ said Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health), senior author of the study. ‘In this study we found an unacceptably inconsistent array of advice from different sources.

‘Dental associations need to be consistent about what method to recommend, based on how effective the method is. Most worryingly, the methods recommended by dental associations are not the same as the best ones mentioned in dental textbooks.’

The most commonly recommended technique involves gently jiggling the brush back and forth in small motions, though no large-scale studies have ever shown this to be any more effective than basic scrubbing.

The study was published in the British Dental Journal.

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