4 techniques to properly brush your teeth

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Even though brushing is the most common part of any oral hygiene regimen, many people don’t brush correctly.

From deciding between types of toothpaste to spending only a few seconds brushing, you might be making at least one common brushing mistakes.

Choose the right toothbrush

Most dental professionals say that your toothbrush should have soft bristles, be the right size for your mouth, and should allow you to reach all areas of your mouth easily.¹ A brush that is too firm or too large may lead to damage to your gums and may not help you clean your teeth and gums as well as you would like. It’s important that you can reach the very backs of your teeth and are able to thoroughly brush them without trouble. 

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The type of toothbrush can also factor in how well you are brushing. In a previously published National Institute of Health literature review, 51 studies suggested that electric toothbrushes may be more effective than manual brushes.² One reason for this might be that electric toothbrushes often have rotating heads that can scrub teeth better.

However, your daily brush techniques are more important than what type of brush you choose. Opt for whatever is comfortable for you and makes you most likely to practice good oral hygiene.

Pay attention to timing and frequency

Some dentists may recommend brushing after each meal. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) encourages brushing for two minutes twice per day.³ Most people choose first thing in the morning and right before bed. 

While a full two minutes of brushing is suggested, most people fall short of this mark. According to a previous study, it shows people only brush for about 45 seconds. The results of the study suggest that increasing your brush time up to two minutes may help to remove up to 26 percent more plaque and buildup.⁴

If you struggle with brushing long enough to clean your teeth thoroughly, start a timer on your phone so you can get accustomed to a two-minute brush. If watching the clock seems like torture, play a song that is around the same length.

Evaluate how you brush your teeth

Two minutes may seem like a long time, but if you are struggling to fill that time, then you may be forgetting to brush key tooth areas. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Your brush strokes should be short (tooth-wide) and gentle.⁵ Don’t be afraid to get near your gum line because it’s essential to get rid of tartar buildup to prevent gum disease.

To easily break down the areas in your mouth you should brush, consider the three surfaces of both your upper and lower teeth: the chewing surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the outer surfaces. Then lightly brush your tongue to help with bad breath and built-up bacteria. Make sure to see your dentist if brushing causes your gums to bleed or hurts your teeth.⁶

Decide on toothpaste

All toothpastes may have the same basic ingredients, but not all toothpastes are equal. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a toothpaste is to ensure that it contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to fight tooth decay and strengthen your enamel.⁷ Several other toothpastes contain active ingredients to help fight against plaque and gingivitis, so it’s important to read the labels to find out what your toothpaste contains. 

If you want to remove surface stains or have sensitivity, you may opt-in for a whitening or a desensitizing toothpaste. Make sure you only use a pea-sized amount when you brush to avoid wasting it.

Always visit the dentist for regular cleanings, and if you have any questions about brushing technique, your dentist is a valuable resource. And don’t forget to floss!

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  1. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth (Last accessed December 2019)

  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth-2#toothbrush-type (Last accessed December 2019)

  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth-2#timing (Last accessed December 2019)

  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth-2#timing (Last accessed December 2019)

  5. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth (Last accessed December 2019)

  6. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth (Last accessed December 2019)

  7. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/toothpaste (Last accessed December 2019)