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45% of SHS students brush their teeth for only 30 seconds – KNUST research reveals

Dentists recommend two minutes as the average duration for brushing the teeth.

However, findings from a research by the Kwame Nkrumah University School of Medicine and Dentistry is reporting lower figures.

The research published in the Ghana Dental journal has found that 45% of SHS students take 30 seconds to finish brushing their teeth.

The research sought to find out the type of toothbrush used among Senior High School students in Kumasi, the duration of brushing and the brushing method that they use.

The scientists interviewed 122 Senior High School students in Kumasi for the study.

The scientists led by Dr. Joseph Abu-Sakyi found that 47.5% brush twice daily and 52% of them brush only once.

They again found that 45.90% brush for only 30 seconds and those who brush for 1-2 minutes were 13%.

“This means the duration of brushing was not good at all,” he said.

Tooth brushing techniques

There are different methods for cleaning the teeth but the correct method is termed as the Modified Bass Technique.

This method is the combination of the circular and the sweep method.

This was practiced by only 12.3% of the respondents.

“So, you put the brush at 90 degrees to where the gum meets the teeth and then circular movements are made and end with a sweep to the tip of the tooth away from the gum.  We saw that a lot of people didn’t know how to use this,” said Dr. Abu-Sakyi.

He however found that the combination which is the vertical and horizontal brushing methods were preferred by 36.1 % while the adopted methods were circular and random.

“What a number of them are using is the horizontal method where the brush is used in the horizontal direction of the teeth.

“We also have the vertical method where people put their teeth together and vertically brush it. Others also use the circular method where they brush in circles.

Tooth brush type

The study found 50.8% used medium brushes followed by 35.2% who use hard bristles.

He warned against hard bristled brush as it can be damaging to gums.

“When you go to the market you see there are a lot of these hard brushes. What they call the smokers brush and for me it doesn’t help.

“It traumatizes the gum and a lot of people who come to the clinic come with complications to the gum and the teeth.

“The recommended brush for adults is the medium bristled brush with a small head but for children it is better to use the soft one,” he said.

He added that “From time to time you can use the chewing stick and the chewing sponge that is the traditional method of cleaning the teeth.

“A lot of people use this as the sole method, the only thing is to use it well. Don’t put the chewing stick in your mouth and just chew it.

“Use it as a traditional brush, select the teeth and clean the surfaces of the teeth,” he said.

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