Periodontist Dr. Rose Explains why Brushing Properly is Better than Brushing Often

Many people in America learn at a young age to brush their teeth three times a day. The fact is that dental decay and gum disease are caused by bacterial plaque that colonize on your teeth, and if you remove them one time a day you will stay free of periodontal disease. It really is that simple.

In the 1950s, toothpaste companies started promoting brushing three times per day for freshness so we would use more of their product. Even brushing that often, however, does not mean plaque is being fully removed.

People are taught to brush their teeth by their parents or their siblings. When they are taught how to clean their teeth in a dental office it is often a cursory service–which is time consuming. There is a long history and rationale behind why dental offices do not really focus on training their patients to clean their teeth to be free of bacterial plaque. Much like a golf or tennis coach can teach somebody how to become a good player, teaching people how to remove plaque is time consuming. This training requires practice and effort, it is not always much fun for the teacher, and not always that interesting for the person being taught. In addition, people are not used to paying to learn how to remove plaque from their teeth. People will pay for tennis, golf, or music lessons, but most people think they already know how to brush their teeth, so they do not value this instruction.

Patients who spend the time and the investment in our office to be taught how to remove plaque from their teeth when they brush save the expense of unhealthy teeth and gums over time. We advocate frequent brushing, but if someone brushes properly just once a day and does a thorough job of removing plaque, that individual is likely to have a healthy mouth.

Dr. Karl A. Rose
Periodontal & Implant Associates of Greater Washington
Chevy Chase, MD
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