How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

One of the best ways you can prevent severe or premature tooth decay is through regular brushing and flossing, using the proper amount of fluoride and using the right technique. The major focus of this article is on using the proper techniques to brush your teeth.

The California Dental Association (CDA) claims that tooth decay is the number one chronic health problem in children. Even for those of you who grew up practicing good dental habits, tooth decay can still catch up to you in your later years. Recent studies confirm that decaying teeth can ultimately lead to health problems outside the vicinity of the mouth including, but not limited to, the impairment of your immune system, your ability to digest food and even to an increased risk of heart attack, among other problems.

Although gum disease and tooth decay are bacterial in origin, steps can be taken to minimize your risk of getting both. This article is the first part in our multi-part series on preventing tooth decay and gum desease and focuses on how to properly brush your teeth.

Steps to Brushing Your Teeth

Step 1. Preparation

The first step to correctly brushing your teeth is to choose a good toothbrush. You'll want a soft brush with a small head. Soft brushes are just hard enough to remove plaque buildup, yet gentle enough not to damage your teeth or gums.

You'll also want to make sure to select a good toothpaste. In general, any toothpaste containing Fluoride will do the job, unless you have special needs, determined by your dentist. Two of the best brands of toothpastes are Colgate Total and Crest Multicare. We can also recommend other brands during our in-office consultations. Usually a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is adequate for most individuals' needs.

It's also recommended to floss before brushing, in order to loosen up any food and debris that your toothbrush may be unable to dislodge.

Step 2. Proper Technique

There are a variety of techniques for brushing your teeth, but one of the most popular ones is described here:

  1. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the teeth and gums.
  2. Gently press against the gums so the tips of the bristles go in between the gum and the teeth.
  3. Then apply a few lateral strokes and roll down the brush to sweep the plaque away from the teeth and the gum. Repeat this motion 6 to 10 times and move on to the next area of 2 to 3 teeth.
  4. On chewing surfaces, short, rapid strokes work best to get the plaque out of the tiny grooves and pits that form naturally on the surface of the tooth. When brushing the back side of your front teeth, hold your brush vertically to be able to reach the teeth better.
  5. If your mouth is full of foam, spit it out and continue brushing. Your brushing is completed when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth, not when your mouth is full! 

Step 3. Ensure Maximum Coverage

  1. Start from a specific location on one side of your mouth and work your way to the opposite side
  2. Brush your teeth in a circular motion, ensuring proper coverage to your individual teeth.
  3. Make multiple passes over the whole mouth so that you end right back where you started. This way you won't miss any areas.

Brushing your teeth should at least take at least 2 minutes and ideally around 4 minutes. 

Step 4. Brush Regularly and Often

How often should you brush? As far as frequency of brushing is concerned, ideally you want to brush your teeth after each and every meal. You should also brush immediately after having any beverages with sugar content. But if you can’t manage that, most people get good results brushing at least twice a day- after breakfast and before going to bed.

So that's how to properly brush your teeth. The next article in our series will emphasize flossing technique.