how to brush your teeth updated

Are you brushing your teeth properly? You’ve been brushing your teeth nearly your whole life, so you feel confident in your skills, right? Like anything else in life, it’s good to revisit a habit to make sure you’re doing it effectively.


When it comes to toothpaste, looking for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal on fluoride toothpaste is always a good idea. That was easy, right?

What Toothbrush Is Best for Brushing Your Teeth?

Some love the power of an electric brush. In contrast, others prefer having a bit more control in maneuvering a manual brush to keep it simple and frugal. Good news: both are great!

Be sure not to overdo it with harsh bristles, no matter which type you choose. Your instinct might be to brush your teeth hard to get them to sparkle, but our gums are sensitive soft areas that need us to be gentle, so a soft-bristled brush is recommended. Having a toothbrush you’re comfortable with can help you brush your teeth properly.

Be sure to replace your toothbrush every few months or when the bristles become worn. Think of brushing your teeth with a worn brush like sweeping a floor with a flimsy broom—you won’t get all the dirt off the floor.

A little toothpaste goes a long way – in fact, a pea-sized amount is perfect. I know it’s tempting to cover your toothbrush with paste, but it’s not necessary to brush your teeth properly. Buy yourself some floss with the money you’ll save on making your toothpaste last twice as long. Flossing once a day before brushing will help get the plaque from in between your teeth that your brush is too big to snag.

Creating a Daily Habit of Brushing Your Teeth Properly

If you’re wondering where in the mouth to start, I’ll let you in on a dirty (well, clean!) little secret: It really doesn’t matter. If you want to start with the outer surfaces, then move to the inners and end on the molar tops (chewing surfaces), go for it. The key is always to get every surface every time.

Louder for those in the back: Every surface, every time!

We tend to miss the inner surfaces of our front teeth because it’s just a tricky area to get into with a brush. To successfully clean those surfaces, place your brush upright, so the bristles are resting on the backs of your front teeth, and move the brush up and down along the gum line. Repeat this technique on the back sides of all your teeth to ensure you got those hidden surfaces clean, angling your brush down when you switch to the bottom row. Still, you probably already guessed that, right? This isn’t your first rodeo.
Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle (not parallel) to the gum line and move it back and forth in short strokes, limiting your focus to small areas at a time to ensure thorough cleaning. Keep track of where you’ve been as you move around your mouth. For this reason, creating a routine works well, so it becomes habitual.

Two Minutes a Day, Two Times a Day

The ADA recommends brushing your teeth correctly for two minutes twice a day. (Any longer than two minutes and your arms might get tired!) Two minutes will feel like a long time if you haven’t been reaching this limit, but it will ensure each surface has received enough brush time.
Two minutes is not a lot when you map out all the locations you have to hit:

1-Outer Surfaces: Upper Right, Lower Right, Center Top, Center Bottom, Upper Left, Upper Bottom
2-Inner Surfaces: Same as Outer Surfaces
3-Chewing Surfaces: Upper Right, Lower Right, Upper Left, Lower Left

Seven Seconds a Surface (Your New Teeth-Brushing Mantra)

Are you ready for this math equation? That’s 16 surfaces divided by 2 minutes, coming to about 7 seconds per area. Is there a song you love that’s 2 minutes long? You can always set a timer on your phone. Or simply count to seven as you brush each area.

Pro Tip: If you load up on toothpaste, your mouth will get too full, and you’ll feel like stopping before you’re supposed to. If you find this to be true, spit some toothpaste out and continue so you don’t miss any areas, and remember to use less toothpaste next time.

As you finish brushing, don’t forget to clean your tongue. Just a few quick brushes will do the trick on your way out to keep that hard-working machine clean.

It’s easy to get into a rut and not devote the time and attention to brushing your teeth. Still, the better you use preventative dental care, the better your teeth will hold up. Do you feel any sensitivity while brushing? If so, request an appointment for restorative dental care right away.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Make an appointment with our office today, and we’ll be able to pinpoint areas that might need more attention, so that together we can prevent future issues.