There’s no shortage of types of toothbrushes and toothpastes on supermarket or drugstore shelves, but these tools and products do not ensure you’re doing an effective job cleaning and caring for your teeth. Whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, you need to know the proper tooth brushing technique in order to keep your smile healthy and bright.

How Often Should You Brush

Let’s start with the golden rule: The American Dental Association (ADA) advocates brushing your teeth twice each day. Thanks to the wide variety of food, drink and snacks most people consume every day, your teeth need a good cleaning both in the morning and at night before bed time. These cleanings remove food debris from the surfaces and spaces around your teeth and aid in plaque prevention. In some cases, you may be advised by your dentist or dental hygienist to brush more frequently. They have a better understanding of your individual dental health needs and will recommend the care appropriate for you.

Manual vs Electric Toothbrush

When it’s time to choose a toothbrush, there are lots of options available. It can be confusing when you read packaging claims for “deep cleaning power”, “angled for better reach” “multi-layered bristles for best cleaning”. Essentially, proper tooth bushing is to remove plaque, prevent or reduce tartar buildup which in turn helps with reducing gingivitis, also known as gum disease. While all of these claims sound good, a simple manual toothbrush – when used properly –  is just as effective as a specialty or electric toothbrush. Extensive research studies conducted by the ADA have shown both powered and manual toothbrushes to be equally effective when used correctly and for the proper amount of time.

Toothpaste Basics

After you’ve selected a toothbrush, it’s time to pick your toothpaste. Once again, there are a lot of tooth bushing products to choose from, and much of the decision depends on your preference for texture and taste. Of all the claims made to brighten, freshen or strengthen your teeth, the only type that’s considered necessary is a fluoride toothpaste for optimal oral health. See our blog post about teeth whitening rinses and toothpastes.  Beyond that, your dentist can suggest other features that may make one product more suitable for you than another.

Proper Tooth Brushing Technique

Say goodbye to plaque with proper tooth brushing! As already mentioned, everyone needs to brush at least twice a day in order to protect their teeth from plaque, staining and gum disease. Plaque is the accumulation of bacteria inside your mouth, and can form anywhere on your teeth or gums. Plaque generates harmful acids which damage your teeth and gums, causing cavities and gingivitis. In addition to brushing twice a day, you also have to do it right to protect your teeth. If you’re not doing it in the proper way, the time and effort you spent brushing is ineffective for keeping plaque and gum disease at bay.

Here are best practices for brushing your teeth and flossing:

  • Proper tooth brushing starts with a good quality toothbrush with soft bristles which will remove debris and plaque but not irritate your gums. Remember to use a fluoride toothpaste that you like in taste and ‘feel’ so you’ll be inclined to use it twice a day.
  • The best brush strokes to clean teeth are usually small circular and up and down motions. Brush all of your teeth, including your hard-to-reach molars in the back, and make sure you get every side of your teeth. Aim your toothbrush bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle and softly brush up and down your teeth, not across your teeth. Also gently brush along your gum line and brush your tongue from back to front briefly as well.
  • Use your toothbrush to effectively remove food debris from all surfaces of your teeth. For the sides you can’t reach with a toothbrush, utilize dental floss. (oh, oh, I said it.  Yes, use dental floss.  Your toothbrush will not remove all food debris) As you chew, your food travels throughout and across your mouth. Consequently, you need to get the backs and sides as well as the front of your teeth. Everyone tends to concentrate on their front teeth while brushing because we easily see them and the debris or stains on them. Don’t neglect to clean the side and back teeth too!
  • Proper tooth brushing takes time.  When cleaning your teeth, brushing should last at least two minutes to three minutes. Remember, plaque gathers and builds all the time in your mouth. So doing a good job of brushing and spending enough time cleaning your teeth, twice per day, makes a healthy difference! If plaque has the time to harden, it can quickly turn into harmful tartar, gum inflammation and ultimately lead to gum disease. Once this happens, only a professional will be able to remove the tarter buildup and treat the disease.
  • After you brush, it’s time to use dental floss. There are many types of flossing tools, but just regular dental floss will do the job. It is worth the extra cost for an ADA approved floss that is waxed. This better quality floss is less likely to fray, and is not as hard and irritating to your gums. Push floss gently against your gum line and remove any debris you find between your teeth. Please do not slide dental floss back and forth in a sawing motion as this will cut your gums, causing irritation, bleeding and possibly infection. Be sure to rinse after you floss. This is a step many people forget, or are unaware of, as the final measure of cleaning debris and bacteria from between your teeth. Rinsing literally flushes any loosened floating debris from your mouth.

In summary, proper tooth brushing and flossing remains the most effective way to protect your oral health – and it takes just minutes a day. Every healthy habit you create today to care for your teeth can help you keep your teeth for years to come. So even if you haven’t practiced good oral hygiene habits before, it’s never too late to start fresh!

Please contact us to book your next dental appointment so we can help you keep a bright, healthy and beautiful smile!