Probably nothing you can do is more important to your oral health than brushing your teeth. Given the importance of this habit, it’s surprising how many people do it wrong.
Well, maybe doing it wrong is a little harsh. But most folks would benefit from improving their tooth brushing technique.
Based on our decades in dentistry, here we share eight tooth brushing do’s and six tooth brushing don’ts. If you follow these suggestions, you’ll definitely get more out of this important daily habit!
If you have any questions about tooth brushing – or anything related to your oral health – call Dores Dental at 413-241-3995. And our dental hygienists will be happy to show you the best way to brush your teeth – and to floss them, too – during your tooth exam.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth From Side to Side
Instead, start at the gum and then move your toothbrush in small circular motions. Tooth brushing from side to side is less effective and can even be detrimental to your dental health.
Don’t Forget Your Gumline
Bacteria collect in the area just under your gums. Eventually, this leads to gum disease. So it’s important to brush there. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush will help because you’ll need to bend the bristles to get under the gums. Position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gumline.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth Too Hard
Some people brush their teeth like they are cleaning bathroom tile. This is a bad idea, as it can damage your tooth enamel. You brush to remove plaque, the sticky, bacteria-filled substance that coats your teeth. Because plaque is soft and loose, you don’t have to brush that hard to get rid of it.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth Immediately After Eating
This is especially important if you’ve consumed citrus fruits or juices, sports drinks, soft drinks, or other foods or beverages with a high acid content. Acids can soften your teeth and make them more susceptible to damage from abrasion. Rinsing with water before tooth brushing can help dilute these acids.
Don’t Forget to Rinse
If you don’t rinse thoroughly after brushing your teeth, you will just return all the nasty bacteria you’ve just carefully cleaned from your teeth and gums right back to those surfaces.
Don’t Share Your Toothbrush
Not even with a spouse, best friend, or family member. Bacteria live on moist toothbrushes. If you share a brush, you are sharing bacteria. And bacteria is what causes tooth decay and gum disease.
Do Brush Your Teeth at Least Twice a Day
We recommend making at least one of the two times after you wake up in the morning. Saliva production slows while you sleep, so bacteria build up in your mouth.
Do Brush All of Your Tooth Surfaces
One tooth surface that tends to get neglected is the inside of your teeth. Make sure not to forget this surface when you brush your teeth.
Do Brush Your Teeth for at Least Two Minutes
A great way to do this is to invest in an electric toothbrush with a timer function. Or you can use the timer on your smartphone. To make it more entertaining, try finding a two-minute song you like and brush your teeth to that!
Do Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Hard bristles are hard on your tooth enamel. If you use a hard-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth too hard, you can damage the enamel of your teeth and your gums. This makes it easier for decay to take hold.
Do Use a Toothbrush with a Head That Is Sized Right for Your Mouth
Toothbrushes come with different head sizes. Getting one that fits easily in your mouth will make it easier to reach all of the nooks and crannies.
Do Swap Out Your Toothbrush at Least Every Three Months
An easy way to remember to do this is to find meaningful dates that occur every quarter, such as family birthdays or holidays and replace your toothbrush then. Replace your brush sooner if the bristles start looking frayed. And it’s also a good idea to replace your brush after you recover from illnesses like colds.
Do Brush Your Tongue Too
Brush your tongue with your toothbrush, or use a tongue scraper, moving from back to front. This will remove bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Do Add Extras to Your Tooth Brushing
At least one of the two times you brush your teeth, floss them too. And also consider using an antibacterial mouth rinse.