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Massaging Teeth Can Quadruple Protection Against Tooth Decay
A new method that uses high-fluoride toothpaste proves to protect teeth from cavities. By Melissa Romero
Rubbing toothpaste on your teeth after lunch can quadruple protection against tooth decay. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Shan Sharma.
Comments () | Published March 28, 2012

Regardless of whether we choose to follow it, we all know the drill of taking care of our chompers: Brush twice a day, floss, and see a dentist every six months.

Now, there's another promising method to add to the list: Massage your teeth.

Rubbing high-fluoride toothpaste on your teeth once a day can increase protection against tooth decay by 400 percent compared with standard toothpastes, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The findings come as welcome news, especially after the alarming New York Times article that reported the rise of out-of-control cavities and tooth decay among preschoolers. 

Dr. Angela Austin of Alexandria Children's Dentistry says she started recommending the massaging technique to adults and certain high-risk patients six months ago. "Massaging the toothpaste on the teeth allows the fluoride to stay on topically a bit longer [than brushing]," she explains. 

The study's researchers recommend rubbing the front of your teeth with toothpaste after lunch and continuing to brush your teeth in the morning and at night. The massage technique works just as well as brushing your teeth for a third time during the day, they said.

Adds Austin: "It's great for protection, but it's imperative that people still brush at least two times daily in addition to this for adequate plaque removal." Also important: Rinsing with water afterward cancels out the benefits, so apply the coating and let it sit for 30 minutes or so.

In the US, most over-the-counter toothpaste contains 1,000 to 1,450 parts per million of fluoride. In the study, participants used Swedish-based toothpaste that contained more than three times as much fluoride as standard toothpaste. Austin explains that a dentist can prescribe a fluoridated toothpaste that's up to 5,000 ppm.

Austin warns that the massage method should only be used by children if their dentist recommends it. "Children have more specific requirements for fluoride recommendations, and doing this method on a child who doesn't need it may actually cause problems," she says.

One problem could be the development of fluorosis, which is a disturbance of dental enamel that occurs as a result of overexposure to fluoride.

Still, for those who are prone to dental decay--patients who have decreased saliva content or poor oral hygiene, or who live in a non-fluoridated-water community--it's likely that more dentists will start recommending this method to help keep teeth cavity-free.

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  • Thanks for sharing this tip, i don't know if this is true or not but i will definitely start massaging my teeth from today using a high-fluoride toothpaste.

  • This is true! But here's the catch: you need to use only high-fluoride toothpaste for it to be fully effective in providing cavity-fighting protection. It is one easy and cool habit to practice, don’t you think? :)

  • JayPorter

    Now I know why my sister has a habit of massaging her tooth with toothpaste. Her dentists scottsdale suggested this to her since her gums started bleeding unexpectedly. I will try this if this will also help in tooth whitening.

  • BridgetHall

    That sounds interesting. I thought that would be like a kid playing around with the toothpaste, but no, it actually helps your teeth. Maybe I should ask my arlington dentist about it next time I go to him.

  • Proper dental care should be taught during the early years of childhood. Visiting your dentist to check the status of your dental concern at least once a month will help you fight different tooth problems.

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Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 03/28/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs