How to Properly Brush Your Teeth: Step by Step

You’ve probably been told since you were a child that brushing your teeth every day is important. But do you know why? And do you know how to brush your teeth properly? Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to properly brush your teeth, as well as some tips for good at-home oral healthcare.

Importance of Daily Tooth Brushing

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes. Parents and caregivers of babies and small children should start cleaning their mouths daily as infants and help small children learn to brush their teeth as soon as their primary teeth emerge.

Daily tooth brushing removes food particles that build up between your teeth and gums over the course of the day. If these food particles aren’t removed, they turn into bacteria, which then turns into plaque. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that can harm your teeth and lead to problems like bad breath, tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. If these problems persist over time, they can lead to more serious oral health issues like periodontal disease.

How to Brush Your Teeth

You probably think that you already know how to brush your teeth. After all, it’s likely something you’ve been doing since early childhood. But if you weren’t taught how to care for your teeth and mouth properly, you may be leaving food debris behind or not getting your teeth entirely clean.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to brush your teeth at least two times per day:

  1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and start by cleaning the outer surfaces of your teeth. Move your brush in a circular motion across your upper and lower teeth, applying gentle pressure and brushing each tooth individually to ensure you aren’t missing any spots.
  2. Tilt your toothbrush to a 45-degree angle and brush along your upper and lower gum line with a sweeping motion. This will ensure you remove any bacteria from the gumline.
  3. Brush the insides and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Again, tilt your toothbrush to a 45-degree angle to ensure you aren’t missing any spots. Be sure to brush along the gumline on the inner side of your teeth, too.
  4. Don’t forget your tongue! To keep your mouth and teeth clean, you must also remove the bacteria that build up on your tongue. Brushing your tongue will also help prevent bad breath.
  5. Spit out any excess toothpaste and rinse with water or mouthwash.

Can you brush your teeth too much?

Yes, you actually CAN brush your teeth too much. While it’s completely fine to brush up to three times a day, or to add an extra tooth brushing session after eating or drinking something sweet or sugary, you should take care not to overdo it. If you brush your teeth too many times per day or if you brush too hard or too long, you risk damaging the tooth enamel, which can cause tooth sensitivity and more susceptibility to cavities and other dental problems. Additionally, if you use hard-bristle brushes or very abrasive toothpaste, you could be wearing away at the enamel of your teeth.

Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, stick to a routine of brushing 2-3 times daily for 2 minutes with a soft-bristled brush.

When should you brush your teeth?

Ideally, you should brush your teeth after meals to quickly remove the film of bacteria that builds up after eating or drinking. Most people choose to brush their teeth once in the morning and once before going to bed. If you eat breakfast right away in the mornings, you can wait until after your breakfast and then brush. Brushing again right before bedtime is good so you’ll have clean teeth before you go to sleep for the night.

Flossing: Is It Necessary?

Flossing your teeth daily is a crucial part of your oral healthcare routine, but studies have shown that over half of Americans don’t floss their teeth at all! Flossing is important because it allows you to reach food particles and bacteria in between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.

If you don’t floss regularly, you may notice that your gums bleed the first few times you do it. This is because the bacteria and plaque that have built up between your teeth and gums has caused inflammation and irritation. Flossing may cause your teeth to bleed at first, but as you continue the habit and repair your damaged gums, the bleeding will stop and you’ll have healthy gums once again.

Tips for Good At-Home Oral Healthcare

Good dental hygiene starts at home with a good oral healthcare routine. When you combine good at-home oral habits with regular dental checkups, your risk of tooth decay significantly declines. Follow these tips to ensure that you have healthy teeth!

  • Replace your manual toothbrush every three to four months, or more often if you’ve been sick. If you use an electric toothbrush, replace the brush head every three to four months.
  • Make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles. Hard bristles can damage your tooth enamel.
  • To make sure you go the full 2 minutes each time you brush, set a timer on your cell phone or listen to your favorite song.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste to strengthen your teeth.
  • Brush your teeth immediately after eating sugary foods or acidic foods.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue and rinse with water or mouthwash to have a fresher breath!
  • For children, only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and avoid fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of 3.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy With Atglen Family Dentistry

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, be sure to schedule regular dental checkups at least every six months in order to ensure you have a healthy mouth. Regular dental checkups will keep your teeth from decay and plaque buildup, and your dentist will check for oral diseases and other health problems that you can’t detect at home on your own.

If it’s time for your checkup, schedule your appointment with Atglen Family Dentistry today by calling
610-557-1164.

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About DR. ONYINYE C. MYERS
Dr. Onyinye Myers has a passion for a natural approach to dental care. As a practicing dentist since 2009, it always comes back to Prevention.

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