Tooth brushing is an important part of dental care, however, not everyone follows the proper way of cleaning teeth. The lack of substantial information about oral hygiene leads to incorrect brushing habits and other mistakes related to brushing teeth. Furthermore, this unawareness often leads to periodontal diseases, tooth loss, or worse, heart disease. Poor dental health leads to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the mouth and these may travel through the system, especially towards the heart. A detailed guide on how to brush teeth follows to help you get those healthy pearly whites that you deserve.

Use the Right Toothbrush

Your toothbrush should fit your mouth just right and should be comfortable when held. The brush may be too big if your mouth is straining hard to open while brushing. When you hold the brush, it should be as comfortable as eating with utensils. Also, pick the right bristles. Lots of toothbrushes have angled bristles or circular ones, but really, what matters most is their texture. Doctors recommend using soft bristles—they are strong enough to remove plaque and leftover food but gentle enough for teeth. Stiff bristles can hurt the gum line and may expose it to bacteria.

How to brush teeth properly

Toothbrushes are also divided into two types: electric and manual. So which one is a better option? Actually, it is a personal preference. It does not matter whether you use electric or manual as long as you brush your teeth properly with them. If you like electric toothbrushes, Sonicare toothbrush heads are a good option because they utilize powerful sonic vibrations that effectively clean the entire mouth.

Apply the Right Amount and Type of Toothpaste

Your toothpaste should contain the right concentration of fluoride, the active ingredient that prevents the formation of cavities. The fluoride content of most US toothpastes are from 1000 to 1100 ppm (parts per million), while those in the UK have higher ppms (1350 to 1450 ppm). Adults and children should use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste while babies should use only a smear. Toothpaste squeezed through the whole brush head is just a marketing strategy and is a total waste since you can get all the fluoride you need in a small amount. Babies and children alike can use the family toothpaste as long as they get the correct fluoride content.

Start at Different Areas

Many people start brushing their teeth at the same area. Many internet guidelines on how to brush teeth tell us that we should start at the front or at the back. But this is actually wrong according to many dentists who advocate how to brush teeth properly. When you start at the same place every time, you tend to get lazy at the last parts so they do not get cleaned well. Try to switch sides every time you start brushing.

Use Short, Vertical Strokes

Long, horizontal strokes are abrasive to the gums. Aim the bristles at a 45-degree angle on your gum line and brush using short, vertical strokes. By using these strokes, you are generating a vibrating rhythm that effectively rakes off food particles and plaque. Brush on all the surfaces of your teeth, especially on the inner ones that often get very little attention.

Do Not Forget Your Tongue and Inner Cheeks

Brush your tongue and inner cheeks using soft strokes and gentle pressure. These places also get bacterial plaque buildup that you would want to get rid of. Fortunately, toothbrushes now have tongue “scrapers” on the back of brush heads that gently graze food and bacteria off of these softer parts.

Take Your Time

Dentists recommend spending at least two minutes to clean your teeth. If two minutes seems too long, multitask. Brush your teeth while watching TV, or synchronize your brushing time with a song.

Soft brushing should be done at least twice a day—in the morning and before going to bed—to prevent bacterial plaque from building up, causing the inflammation of gums. Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats the teeth; the more time spent between brushes, the more it accumulates on your teeth. Do not overdo brushing though. Besides being too obsessive, you may also irritate your teeth and gums, and aggressive brushing may erode the tooth enamel leading to brittle teeth.

Rinse Your Mouth

Sip water from a cup or faucet, gargle, and spit it out. Gargling with water removes leftover food particles and the suds you get after brushing. You can also gargle with mouthwash to loosen up the last bits of bacteria and food that you might have missed during brushing.

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Rinse Your Toothbrush, Too

If you leave your toothbrush as it is after brushing, you may get the old bacteria again the next time you brush. Put your brush under running water and completely rinse it out. Shake off excess moisture and recap it. Also, make sure that the cap has holes to let air flow freely inside. This helps dry your toothbrush and avoid the growth of unnecessary bacteria.

Some Important Points

  • Replace your toothbrush every three months or if you notice that the bristles have frayed. Tattered bristles will not work properly and will defeat the purpose of proper brushing.

  • Never share your toothbrush to avoid spreading infections.

  • Do not brush your teeth right after a meal, especially if you had soda, fruit, wine, or any acidic food. The acids soften the tooth enamel and brushing will wear it away. Give your saliva a chance to neutralize the acids by waiting for an hour before brushing.

  • Teach family and friends how to brush teeth properly and give them correct, reliable information on dental care.

  • Knowing how to brush teeth correctly will not only give you a fresh, clean mouth but will also save you from diseases that harmful bacteria can give you.