Brushing, Flossing or Otherwise: Exploring The Best Way to Clean Plaque Off Teeth

What is the best way to clean plaque off teeth?

Is brushing only the best way to clean plaque off teeth?

Plaque is the thin biofilm that is deposited on the surface of teeth when they are left uncleaned for a while. It is the cornerstone of gum disease, and the first brick laid in the direction of periodontal breakdown, so naturally, we attempt
to explore the best way to clean plaque off teeth.

Plaque is usually formed at the line between the teeth and the gums. It is also found in the shielded, difficult to clean areas between the teeth, and that is natural, unrestored teeth. If you have heavy restorations, such as a crown and bridge on your teeth, and even worse if you have braces attached to your teeth, you would expect that plaque accumulation in these areas is extremely elevated. That is because plaque is formed by food remnants, which find it easy to just lodge under the bridge or around the bracket, and it is extremely difficult to clean in these areas.

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So what is the best way to clean plaque off teeth?

Well, to tell the truth, no single method of oral hygiene is enough on its own to do this mission. What the brush does cannot be done by flossing, and where floss reaches is inaccessible with a brush and so on. So it is not a question of the
best way to clean plaque, but the best combination of actions needed to thoroughly clean the teeth all around, which is why we recommend the following:

  • Brushing:
    Brushing is the corner stone of oral hygiene. There is simply no oral hygiene with proper and regular brushing. The tooth brush is more than capable of cleaning the visible surfaces of the teeth, which are the outer, inner and top surfaces of each tooth. Brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and in 3 main consistencies ( these are hard brushes for heavily stained teeth such as with smokers, soft brushes for people who have weak or delicate gums, or active gum disease, and medium which should be used by everyone) .
    The method of brushing is also important. A variety of methods exist, but the most effective one to clean the teeth is called Stillman’s technique, where you place the brush on the surface of the tooth just adjacent to the gums, and move it away from the gums in a sweeping motion. This method may prove difficult for children, which is why we recommend using a circular motion to clean the surface of the teeth, which is known as Fone’s technique.
    Brushing is aided by the use of tooth paste. Although the act of brushing itself is most important ( meaning brushing without tooth paste should not cause any problems if done correctly and regularly), but tooth paste – especially if fluoridated – can add protective layers on the surface of the tooth, and decrease the chances of plaque accumulation as well as decay. It also gives a refreshing sensation and cures bad breath.
    For people with braces or heavily restored teeth, or people suffering from limited dexterity such as the elderly or people with Parkinson’s disease, an electric tooth brush may be your answer. It moves in a circular manner and could very easily clean around braces and in the crown and bridge region.

  • Using Mouth wash:
    While mouth wash alone does not do enough, it is a valuable adjunct to brushing. The liquid can slip between the teeth and even under bridges and braces, and if it is full of Fluoride, could give added protection to the teeth, in addition to treating bad mouth odor.

  • Flossing:
    You simply cannot hope to thoroughly remove plaque off teeth without flossing. As we said before, brushing could clean the “visible” surfaces of teeth, but what about the invisible? What about the areas between the teeth? Only flossing can reach these areas.
    Flossing does not mean strictly using string floss ( although it is effective is used correctly), but a variety of flossing methods exist, and most recently, the emergence of water flossers (or water piks) have made the act of flossing extremely easy.
    In fact, most manufacturers of water flossers claim that it could remove plaque off the visible surfaces of teeth as well, and claim you could do without brushing. Of course nothing scientific has been proven yet, but it shows how important and how effective a water flosser can be. Not only that, but water flossers have solved the dilemma of cleaning with braces, and even with bridges. Studies have scientifically proven it reduces gum disease and gum bleeding to almost the third compared to traditional string floss.  

These are the best actions that could get the sticky plaque off teeth, but only if you do it on a regular basis. We recommend brushing twice daily, once before bedtime, using a fluoridated mouth wash as instructed by your dentist, and flossing 3
times a week with whichever method you think is best for you.

What happens if I don’t clean plaque off my teeth?

If plaque is left uncleaned for more than 3 days, minerals from the saliva and the food you consume start to deposit into it, and it hardens forming calculus (AKA tartar). This tartar sticks to the surface of the teeth and cannot be removed by any
method of oral hygiene, and a visit to the dentist is inevitable.

But if you still decide not to clean this tartar, you are in for a world of problems. Tartar is loaded with bacteria that secrete acids and toxins, and could easily initiate gum disease an even decay. It also physically presses down on the gums causing their bleeding and injury, and if this condition is left untreated, the situation develops into periodontal disease where bone loss occurs and the teeth start getting mobile, which means they would eventually be rendered useless and would need to be removed.

So, in other words, if you don’t continually attempt to find the best way to clean plaque off teeth, you may as well be headed for their loss.

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