Everyone knows the best method of brushing your teeth to keep them healthy, right? Well, if you include dentists in the conversation, the answer is no, apparently.

Dentists, whom you think would have a pretty good idea, tend to disagree when it come to your most efficient dental hygiene techniques, a study has found.

"Ask more than one dentist or hygienist how to brush your teeth, and they're likely to give conflicting messages," says study author Dr. John Wainwright, a practicing dentists from University College London in England. "It's confusing and potentially will make you wonder who you should trust to give you the best advice."

For the study, Wainwright and Dr. Aubrey Sheiham looked at tooth-brushing advice offered in dental school textbooks, from toothbrush and toothpaste manufacturers and provided by dental associations of 10 different countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The consensus? Sorry, Wainwright says, he and Sheiham couldn't find one.

"There's no good evidence at the moment that one method of brushing is more effective than another," he says.

The researchers said they could find no randomized trial of tooth-brushing techniques in the examined dental literature, and no agreement among dental professionals concerning how often and how long to brush.

Six different methods of tooth brushing, mostly involving recommended brush angles and preferred brushing motions, were being put forward by dental associations and individual dentists they found, often in direct conflict with each other.

For instance, the American Dental Association recommends holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and creating very short motions back and forth.

No so, say other dental professionals, who argue the best method involves a toothbrush held at right angles to the surface of the teeth and moved in large, sweeping circles.

There were similar differences in recommendation as to how long a brushing session should last, and how often the teeth should be brushed, Wainwright said.

"A lot of different dental professionals advise different ways to brush your teeth," he said. "With the evidence currently available, a complex method may be no more useful than a simple scrub, which is a lot easier to learn."

Expert opinion might have some worth, he said, but it lacks any supporting evidence or studies, he said.

"It's undermining faith and trust in the profession as a whole," Wainwright said.

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