The Best Tooth Brushing Technique

Dr. James Hallam of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. James Hallam, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

We’ve all heard that brushing properly is essential for cleaning our teeth and gums effectively. But when you get right down to it, do we know what proper brushing really means?

Since we’re actually setting out to remove the plaque bacteria from the surfaces of our teeth, (something that grows constantly), brushing up on our skills is important. Start by taking a look at your toothbrush.

It’s best to choose one with soft, nylon, round-ended bristles that won’t scratch and irritate your teeth or damage your gums. Treat yourself to a new toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become worn or frayed.

A hard, brittle brush can also injure your gums. Children’s brushes may need to be replaced more often since they can wear them out more quickly. Not feeling well? Change your toothbrush at the beginning of an illness and again, when you’re feeling better.

Woman brushing her teeth in front of bathroom mirror.

Brush gently for 3 to 4 minutes!

Let’s get started!

Begin brushing by placing the bristles of the brush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle. The bristles should be touching both the surface of the tooth and the gum line.

Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces of 2 – 3 teeth using a vibrating circular motion. Then, move the brush to the next group of 2 – 3 teeth and repeat the procedure. Maintaining a 45-degree angle with the bristles contacting the tooth surface and gum line, gently brush using an up and down rolling motion along all of the inner tooth surfaces and gumline. Then, tilt the brush vertically behind the front teeth. Make several up and down strokes using the front half of the brush.

Place the brush against the biting surfaces of the teeth and use a gentle back and forth scrubbing motion. Be sure to pay special attention to those hard-to-reach back teeth and areas where dental work has been done. Gently brushing your tongue will remove bacteria and help freshen your breath.

“Check with your dentist or hygienist to make sure you’re brushing properly, because tooth positions and gum conditions can vary.”

Unfortunately, most people spend less than a minute brushing their teeth. Since many dentists generally recommend brushing gently for 3 to 4 minutes, brushing with the radio on might help since that’s the length of an average song. Some people like to use an egg timer to measure brushing time.

Make sure you’re doing a thorough job. Brush the full 3 to 4 minutes twice a day, and check with your dentist or hygienist to make sure you’re brushing properly, because tooth positions and gum conditions can vary.

Yours for better dental health,

This article has been updated from it’s original posting in April of 2013.

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