How to brush your teeth properly in 5 easy steps

How to brush your teeth properly in 5 easy steps

Proper oral hygiene is a key part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy for many years to come. When you know how to brush your teeth properly, you’ll prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues. You’ll also keep your teeth clean and bright, so you can smile with confidence.

We know that it can be difficult to know the best tooth brushing technique—especially when so many areas are hard to reach. Many people spend years brushing in a way that misses key tooth surfaces and damages soft tissues.

We want to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. That’s why we’ve put together five easy steps for proper tooth brushing.

Step 1: Position your toothbrush properly

The first step to brushing your teeth correctly is to position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Direct the toothbrush bristles toward your gumline and use a gentle, circular motion. It’s important to use a soft touch because aggressive brushing can damage your gums.

Step 2: Brush outer surfaces

Now it’s time to brush all the outer surfaces of your teeth. Start off by using a back-and-forth motion to brush the chewing surfaces. Next, brush the outer surfaces of your teeth with a gentle, circular motion. Finish each section with a few vertical strokes up and away from your gums.

Step 3: Brush the inner surfaces

Even though the inner surfaces of your teeth aren’t visible, it’s still important to brush them properly. Use gentle, back-and-forth, tooth-wide strokes at a 45-degree angle to the gums.

Step 4: Clean the front inner surfaces

When you reach the front inner teeth, you’ll want to tilt your toothbrush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes. 

Step 5:  Brush your tongue

Remove bacteria from your tongue by brushing it with a back-and-forth motion. This will help keep your breath fresh.

Tips to brush your teeth properly

Choose the right toothbrush

The Canadian Dental Association recommends using a soft toothbrush with rounded bristles. This will help reduce the risk of damaging your gums while brushing. Replace your toothbrush when you see signs of wear or every three months.

Stick to the same brushing sequence

Try to always stick to the same brushing sequence so that you clean every surface. For example, you might start with your left side molars and then work your way around to the right side. You can switch up your pattern once in a while to break bad brushing habits, such as over-brushing or missing certain areas.

Focus on the gumline

Directing your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle into your gums allows you to reach plaque (a collection of food particles, bacteria and debris) that can accumulate beneath the gumline. 

Focusing on this area is important because the gums attach to the teeth at a lower point than the gumline. This leaves a small trench-like space surrounding each tooth, called a sulcus. Food and bacteria can get trapped in the sulcus and cause gum disease. Proper, gentle brushing in this area will help keep your gums healthy.

Pay attention to the bottom inner surfaces

The bottom inner tooth surfaces at the front of your mouth (where the tip of your tongue touches) are especially susceptible to plaque and tartar accumulation. This is because they’re close to saliva glands. So, be sure to keep this area healthy with diligent toothbrushing.

Be mindful while brushing

Even though you may be tired when you brush your teeth, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re doing. Being mindful while you brush will help you to get out of autopilot and brush more intentionally. Instead of brushing the same tooth surfaces repeatedly, or missing certain areas altogether, you’ll evenly brush all your teeth.

Take your time

It is recommended that you brush your teeth for two to three minutes. You can use a timer to make sure you’re spending enough time brushing. Alternatively, you can count to seven as you brush each toothbrush-wide section of teeth.

Common tooth brushing mistakes to avoid

Keeping your toothbrush for too long

Broken, flattened toothbrush bristles won’t brush your teeth properly. If your toothbrush is worn out, it’s time to make like Elsa and let it go.

Brushing too hard

People often think that hard brushing is the way to go to remove plaque. However, brushing your teeth too hard causes gum recession. Instead, use light pressure to gently clean your teeth and gumline.

Improper storage

Storing your toothbrush in a container encourages bacteria growth. It’s best to stand your toothbrush up vertically and let the bristles air dry. You can also pop your toothbrush in the dishwasher once in a while for a deep clean.

Brushing immediately after eating

You may be in the habit of brushing your teeth after every meal. This is ok as long as you know how to brush your teeth properly. Also, be sure to wait thirty minutes before brushing if you’ve consumed anything acidic, such as grapefruit or soda. Acidic foods and drinks temporarily weaken enamel, leaving it susceptible to damage if you brush too soon.

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush

Hard-bristled toothbrushes can damage your gums. Instead, opt for a soft-bristled or an electric toothbrush to gently clean your teeth.

A healthy smile is worth the effort

Although it may sound like a lot of work to learn how to brush your teeth properly, it’s worth it. Before you know it, proper brushing will become a habit that’s sure to pay off. Having healthy, beautiful teeth will give you something to smile about for years to come.

In addition to twice daily brushing and flossing, we also recommend visiting the dentist for a checkup and teeth cleaning every six months. Book a dental visit [Link to book a visit page] to find out how we can help keep your teeth strong and healthy.

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