Hopefully, you learned how to brush your teeth at an early age and have been doing it ever since. But there’s a difference between just brushing your teeth and brushing your teeth properly. Wait, there’s a proper way to brush? Yep! Hold your toothbrush with the tips of your fingers rather than in your fist. The lighter grip will prevent aggressive strokes (more on that later). Bacteria gather at the gum line, right where your tooth and gum meet, and that’s where disease starts. To fight that plaque hold your toothbrush at a 45° angle and make small circular strokes so the bristles can gently clean between the tooth and gum. Repeat for the inside surfaces of your teeth and don’t forget the chewing surfaces. Use fresh water to rinse your toothbrush and stand it upright to dry. Then floss between each tooth and you’ll have cleaned 100% of your tooth surfaces!
Some people think that because enamel is the hardest substance in the body it’s okay, or even better, to brush hard. Hard bristles and a good scrub clean better, right? Maybe for some things, but it can harm teeth and gums. Your teeth have an enamel surface, not diamond, so they are still susceptible to abuse. You’re not going to use a steel brush on a china teacup, right? Your toothpaste may contain abrasives to help scrub away plaque so the addition of hard bristles can actually cause more harm than good. Use a soft or extra-soft bristled brush. Also, some people really push hard when they brush. This is known as aggressive brushing and it’s not a good thing. If you’re brushing too hard and/or using a medium to hard bristle toothbrush, you may be eroding your teeth and even damaging your gums.
One more time:
- Soft or extra-soft bristle toothbrush.
- 45° brushing angle.
- Gentle cleaning beneath the gum line.
- Brush all surfaces.
- Don’t forget to floss!
Finally, brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. That’s about how long it takes to effectively clean all of your teeth. If you’re still not sure if you’re brushing correctly, or if you have special circumstances, just ask your dentist. It’s all about using the best tools and techniques for the job!