Public Release: 

Most people brush their teeth in the wrong way

University of Gothenburg


IMAGE: This is Pia Gabre. view more

Credit: Photo: University of Gothenburg

Almost all Swedes brush their teeth, yet only one in ten does it in a way that effectively prevents tooth decay. Now researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, are eager to teach Swedes how to brush their teeth more effectively.

Most Swedes regularly brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. But only few know the best brushing technique, how the toothpaste should be used and how fluoride prevents tooth decay.

In two separate studies, Pia Gabre and her colleagues at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, studied the toothbrushing habits of 2013 Swedes aged 15-16, 31-35, 60-65 and 76-80 - how often and for how long, how often fluoride toothpaste is used, how much toothpaste is put on the toothbrush and how much water is used during and after the toothbrushing.

The results show that only ten percent of the population use toothpaste in the most effective way.

'Swedes generally do brush their teeth, but mostly because of social norms and to feel fresh rather than to prevent tooth decay,' says Gabre.

Swedes could improve their oral health considerably by learning how to maximise the effect of fluoride toothpaste, according to Gabre.

Nevertheless, the study shows that 80 percent are generally happy with how they take care of their teeth.

'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,' says Gabre.

The researchers conclude that Swedes' knowledge about toothbrushing must be improved and that the provided advice must be made simpler, clearer and more easy to use.


Did you know that ...

  • 25 percent of Swedish teenagers do not brush their teeth regularly?
  • women under age 35 are the best toothbrushers?
  • about one Swede in four believes that the main task of fluoride is to keep the mouth fresh?
  • over 70 percent of adult Swedes have never been informed about the best way to use toothpaste?
  • between 55 and 75 percent rinse with water after brushing?

The researchers say:

  • Use toothpaste at least twice a day, after breakfast and before
  • bedtime.
  • If you get cavities often, use toothpaste with more fluoride.
  • Avoid rinsing with water after brushing.

The study titled Fluoride Toothpaste and Toothbrushing; Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviour among Swedish Adolescents and Adults was published in Swedish Dental Journal.

The study titled Is the Use of Fluoride Toothpaste Optimal? Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviour Concerning Fluoride Toothpaste and Toothbrushing in Different Age Groups in Sweden was published in Community Dental Oral Epidemiol.

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