Do you brush your teeth religiously twice a day, then visit the dentist only to find you have a cavity? Maybe you’re not brushing your teeth as well as you should be.

I know what it’s like. Sometimes when you’re in a rush to get to work, you might not brush your teeth for long enough. All the plaque and food debris doesn’t get removed and festers throughout the day. It leaves your susceptible to problems later on that I’m sure you would rather avoid from the start.

It’s worth spending that extra bit of time to do the job successfully and have stress-free dental visits. Let’s look at how to properly brush your teeth and why it’s so important.

What Is the Right Way to Brush Your Teeth?

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

To clean your teeth properly, you need to spend two minutes twice a day doing it. The majority of adults and children do not come anywhere close to brushing their teeth for that length of time.

While you may think you’re doing this, in reality, times are often overestimated. It might be a good idea to use a stopwatch or some other method of timing your two minutes. Some electric toothbrushes come with timers built in, taking away the guesswork.

To brush your teeth properly, you need to make sure you cover all the area of your teeth and the surrounding gums. You should use gentle short strokes, paying particular attention to the areas around crowns, fillings or other restorations. Don’t forget the back teeth, which are harder to reach.

The easiest way to make sure you brush everywhere is to follow a pattern, by dividing the mouth and teeth into sections. One example of this is:

  • Clean the outer surfaces of your lower teeth and then your upper teeth.
  • Next, clean the inner surfaces of your lower teeth and then your upper teeth.
  • Clean the top of the teeth (chewing surfaces) upper and lower.
  • Remember to brush your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.

Now you know how long you should brush your teeth for and the areas you need to make sure you cover. To do this efficiently:

  • Tilt your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line.
  • Use gentle strokes the width of your tooth brushing in a circular motion.
  • Sweep the brush away from the gum line along the length of the tooth.
  • To clean the back of the tooth, vertically tilt your brush and use several strokes up and down.
  • Gently brush the surface of your tongue and inside your cheeks to remove bacteria.

Is There a Wrong Way to Brush Your Teeth?

wrong way to brush your teeth

The short answer is “yes,” but let’s take a look at why.

  • Brushing too hard: It’s tempting to brush hard and fast thinking you are removing all that plaque and leaving your teeth feeling squeaky clean. Sawing that toothbrush back and forth at the speed of light, however, is the wrong way to do it.
  • Damage teeth and gums: You could be damaging and scrubbing away the enamel layer protecting the inner parts of your tooth. It’s abrasive to your teeth and can also harm your gums.
  • Increase sensitivity: Stripping enamel from your teeth will make them more susceptible to sensitivity. Forget eating that ice cream or drinking a hot cup of coffee, it will make you flinch.
  • Receding gums: Brushing too vigorously can also cause your gums to recede. This exposes the root area of your teeth, causing pain. It can also lead to other dental issues, such as periodontal disease and cavities on the roots.

Gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush is all it takes to remove plaque and food debris from your teeth. The more gentle you are, and the slower you brush, the better. This way, the more likely it becomes that the bristles of your toothbrush will get between your teeth and clean them.

Mistakes to Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

mistakes to avoid when brushing your teeth

As well as brushing incorrectly, there are other things you might be practicing that won’t be doing your teeth any favors. These include:

Brushing Immediately After Eating

The acidity in food and drinks can make the enamel outer layer of your teeth soft. Brushing straight after a meal can damage the enamel and make your teeth more sensitive. First, neutralize the acid with some sugar-free gum, a glass of water or milk.

Rinsing After Brushing

Most toothpaste contains fluoride, which can strengthen the outer surface of your teeth and protect them from harmful acids. By rinsing, you wash away this important mineral and leave your teeth exposed to damage. Just spit out the excess toothpaste and foam in your mouth but don’t sloosh with water.

Using Mouthwash

Most mouthwashes contain lower fluoride levels than toothpaste, so by rinsing with one you actually could be increasing the chances of tooth decay. Mouthwashes so have their place though. They might sometimes be recommended after oral surgery when you can’t brush your teeth. Nevertheless, as well as killing bad bacteria, they also kill good bacteria, upsetting the status quo in your mouth.

Forgetting Parts of the Teeth

No matter how well we brush our teeth, there are places that a toothbrush just can’t reach. Flossing is an important part of a good mouth hygiene regime. Before brushing, floss with either a traditional string or interdental brush, or a device like a water or air flosser.

Brushing at the Wrong Time of Day

The most important time to brush your teeth is before bed, to prevent plaque buildup calcifying on your teeth. You should also brush one other time during the day. This could be after breakfast, but if you have something acidic with breakfast, like a glass of juice, it’s better to do it before.

Why Is a Proper Brushing Technique so Important?

Brushing Techniques to Minimize Plaque : Dental Health

We have already mentioned that brushing hard and fast is not good for your teeth. Not only does it wear away the enamel, but it can also cause a buildup of plaque between your teeth and your gums. This could lead to dental issues over time.

Improve Teeth and Gum Health

The good news is if you stop sawing back and forth with your toothbrush and start treating your teeth more gently instead, things can improve. Not being so heavy-handed and applying less pressure with the correct technique will clean your teeth efficiently.

Less Dental Damage

This means you won’t be damaging your gums or wearing away the enamel from your teeth. There is less chance your teeth will be sensitive and you are more likely to remove the unwanted plaque.

Dealing With Sensitive Teeth

If your teeth do become sensitive, see your dental health professional, in order to ascertain what the cause of the problem is.

Bleeding Gums

If your gums are bleeding or receding. It might be something other than incorrect brushing and you need professional advice.

What Type of Toothbrush Should I Use?

toothbrush

There are so many different shapes, styles, and sizes of toothbrushes, choosing the right one can be like walking through a minefield. Whichever brush you choose, it’s a good idea to look for one that has ADA approval. Below are some of the things you should consider when selecting a toothbrush.

Size

Yes, size matters. If you choose a brush that is too big, you won’t be able to get to the hard-to-reach back teeth. It will be hard to maneuver in your mouth and won’t be effective.

Choose a brush head that fits comfortably in your mouth and can get to all of your teeth. A size of 1-inch long by 0.5-inch wide is suitable for most adults. It will be easy to use and will clean efficiently, provided you use the right technique.

Bristles

We have already mentioned that a soft-bristled brush is the best. Medium and hard-bristled brushes can damage your teeth and gums. This is especially the case if you are a little vigorous when you clean your teeth.

Soft bristles will be effective in removing plaque and can cause less damage to enamel and gums. The bristles can also be rippled, flat or rounded at the tips. Rounded tips may be gentler, but this is a case of preference.

Handle

When it comes to the handle, this is also a matter of personal preference. Some might be flexible at the brush head, or have a non-slip grip. Choose one that is comfortable for you to hold and use.

Manual or Powered

This is again a question of personal choice. Both are equally effective in removing plaque and cleaning your teeth.

You might find an electric or battery-powered toothbrush beneficial if your manual dexterity isn’t so good, due to a medical condition like arthritis. It might also be a good option if you tend to brush too hard, as many have sensors to prevent this. They also tend to have smaller brush heads, so you may find it easier to get to those back molars.

On the other hand, some users find the vibrations and noise of a powered toothbrush unpleasant and prefer manual versions. Not to mention storage space and the inconvenience for frequent travelers.

How Important Is the Toothpaste I Use?

toothpaste

A good quality toothpaste can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and make your breath smell better. There are several ingredients which have different purposes.

What Does Toothpaste Do?

The foam in toothpaste helps remove plaque and food debris. The abrasives remove stains, and fluoride strengthens teeth.

This video explains why ADA acceptance is an important factor when choosing a toothpaste.

Check With a Dentist

Before choosing from the myriad of products that are available on the market, check with your dentist that you don’t need a specialized toothpaste.

Different Types of Toothpaste

Here are some of the different types of toothpaste you will find:

  • Fluoride toothpaste:This mineral helps strengthen the teeth and counteracts the erosive effects of acid. Most toothpaste on the market will contain fluoride. This is a choice that would be particularly good if you live in an area that does not have fluoridated water in the public supply.
  • Tartar control: Be aware that these toothpastes aren’t able to remove tartar that has built up on the teeth. That can only be done by a dental professional. What it will do, however, is help prevent it from building up in the first place.
  • Whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste removes stains from your teeth with the use of mild abrasives or chemicals. They won’t, however, be able to change the natural color of your teeth.
  • Natural toothpastes: This type of toothpaste should not contain any chemicals and will have all-natural ingredients. However, some may contain fluoride.
  • Desensitizing toothpaste: Sensitive teeth can be a challenge. Hot and cold food and drinks, or even a cool morning breeze can affect your teeth and cause pain. Desensitizing toothpaste helps create a barrier, which can prevent and relieve the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
  • Smokers toothpaste: Like whitening toothpaste, these use abrasives to remove nicotine stains from the teeth. They can also damage the teeth and gums, so should be used with caution.
  • Children’s Toothpaste: Specially formulated to appeal to our little ones. Children’s toothpaste often makes brushing their teeth more pleasant and fun. They’re likely to have mild flavors and colorful themes that kids will like and enjoy.

How Often Should I Replace My Toothbrush?

Toothbrushes are a breeding ground for many microorganisms. Bacteria like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Klebsiella, to name a few, can be found on them. The longer a toothbrush is used, the more bacteria can accumulate — gross!

Most dentists recommend a toothbrush is changed every three months. However, some schools of thought decree this should be every three or four weeks.

Another reason for changing your toothbrush is wear and tear on the bristles. Once they start splaying out in different directions, it’s time for a change. They will no longer be cleaning your teeth effectively.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to properly brush your teeth and how important it is for good oral health. Brushing twice a day for two minutes is essential to keep your teeth clean and to remove plaque and food debris.

Choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste, and avoid bad habits. This is imperative when it comes to protecting your teeth

You wouldn’t drive your car with worn tires, so don’t brush your teeth with a worn brush. Make sure you change it regularly.

If you are unsure about any of the aspects involved in maintaining good oral hygiene, speak to your dental professional. They can help and advise you.

Karl Townsend Administrator
Having suffered for decades, I know a thing or two about bad oral hygiene. That\'s why I started this site. To help educate and inform visitors on good oral products and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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