Everything you ever wanted to know about teeth (but were afraid to ask the dentist) | Life and style

Once, it was a simple question of up and down or round and round. Today, toothbrushing a basic ritual of personal hygiene is fraught with decisions: Should you use an oscillating electric brush, or a giant, rubber-flanged monster brush? Is it worth investing in mouthwash, or is tap water just as good?

The main reason we brush our teeth is to remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that grows on their surface. Some of these bacteria produce substances that irritate the gums. Others convert sugar into acid, which erodes the teeth. Bacteria also produce stinky substances that cause bad breath. But with so many potential ways of removing plaque from our mouths, how do you know what is