Father helps his children with oral health because knowing how to brush your teeth properly is crucial to preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

You learn how to brush your teeth pretty much as soon as you have teeth to brush. There’s probably a certain way you go about brushing every day, but you may need to make some changes to your style to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time caring for those pearly whites.

Using the right technique can help keep your teeth in better shape without doing more work than you already are. Read on so you know you’re brushing the right way.

Proper Technique for Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing twice a day is crucial to having healthy teeth and gums. But if you’re not using the right technique during those brush sessions you aren’t getting your teeth and gums as clean as they need to be.

Here’s how to brush your teeth properly, according to the American Dental Association (ADA):

  • Put your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
  • Move the brush side to side across your teeth. You should use short strokes so you’re brushing each tooth individually.
  • Use that same motion to go across the front surfaces of your teeth, the inner surfaces of the teeth (that face inside your mouth), and the tops of your teeth (the areas you use to chew).
  • When you’re brushing the backs of your front teeth, tilt your toothbrush vertically and brush in an up and down motion to make sure you’re getting the best coverage.

Knowing how to brush your teeth properly in combination with flossing, eating a healthy diet, and seeing your dentist regularly will prevent you from dealing with gum disease and tooth decay.

Common Brushing Mistakes

Even if you’re using the right method for brushing, there are still a few other things you need to look out for. Make sure you’re not guilty of one of these common brushing mistakes.

Using the Same Toothbrush for Too Long

It’s easy to forget exactly how long you’ve been using the same toothbrush. You need to remember to get a new one every three or four months. 

Sometimes you can just tell by looking at the brush that it’s about time to replace it. Toothbrushes with the bristles fraying outward won’t be very effective in getting plaque out of the nooks and crannies it likes to hide in.

Not Brushing Long Enough

How much time do you spend brushing? It’s easy to just slap the toothpaste on the bristles and then rub it across your teeth a few times, but that quick brush just isn’t going to cut it.

The ADA recommends brushing for 2 minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. 

Brushing Too Hard

Don’t bear down too hard when you brush. Scrubbing too hard can damage your gums.

Some signs that you’re brushing too hard include noticing your gums are receding, having more sensitive teeth, and your teeth not being as bright near your gums.

Father teaches son how to properly brush his teeth so he doesn’t get cavities.

Brushing Right After Eating

Resist the urge to brush immediately after you eat, especially if you have eaten foods that are acidic. Doing so can actually damage your enamel instead of cleaning it. That’s because the pH levels in your mouth are unbalanced, leaving your enamel vulnerable.

You should wait about an hour after eating before you brush. Drinking water or chewing sugarless gum are good ways to help your pH levels return to normal faster.

Using a Hard Bristled Brush

This goes hand-in-hand with brushing too hard. Hard-bristled brushes can damage your gums and are tougher on your enamel. You should use a soft-bristled brush.

Brush or Floss First?

Do you brush or floss first? Most people tend to brush first and then floss afterwards, followed by a rinse with cold water or mouthwash. You may want to change that up a little, though.

A study published in 2018 found that flossing first and then brushing second helps remove more plaque from your mouth.

Researchers say flossing loosens the bacteria that has found its way in between your teeth. When you floss first, the brush can then get rid of more bacteria than doing it in the reverse order. 

While flossing and then brushing may be the ideal sequencing, dentists say the most important thing is that you’re both brushing and flossing daily, no matter the order. 

Your Dentist Will Know

Knowing how to brush your teeth properly is immensely important to your overall oral health. You have to do it right and do it regularly to get all the benefits.

If you’re just flossing right before you go to the dentist or you’re not brushing long/regularly enough, your dentist is going to be able to tell. The amount of plaque that’s lingering in your mouth will be a giveaway. So make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly.