Brushing is an everyday routine for every person. It’s so mundane that you may be a little bit surprised that you may not be aware of the correct way to brush your teeth. Everyone knows that it plays a significant role in a person’s oral health and overall health, but do you know how to do it properly? Brushing the right way can help prevent conditions such as tooth decay and gingivitis.
Steps to brushing teeth right
Here’s a quick guide to ensure you know how to brush your teeth right:
1. Prepare your toothbrush
Wet your toothbrush with water, then apply a thin strip of toothpaste. You can wet it again if you like.
2. Start at the back
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle along the gum line, then start brushing your upper molars or the back teeth. Move-in a clockwise direction. Brush using short, circular, back-and-forth motions. Do this for approximately 20 seconds.
3. Roll away to the front
Roll the brush away from the gum line and the molars and sweep the outer surface of the teeth. While you do this, you remove food particles and plaque. Continue working in a clockwise direction until you finish with the lower molars on the other side.
4. Clean the inner side of the teeth
Brush the back surface of the front teeth. As you go, tilt the bristles vertically and create a flicking up-and-down motion on the surface of the tooth. Repeat this twice or thrice for a thorough clean. Do this on your upper and lower front teeth.
5. Brush the top surfaces of the teeth
Now, you can go clean the top surfaces of the molars and premolars that you use to bite and chew. Brush them in a gentle circular motion.
6. Brush the inner surfaces of the molars
After you’ve covered the top surfaces, proceed to brush the inner surfaces of your molars and premolars. Brush in a circular motion.
7. Brush the tongue and the sides of the cheeks
A lot of people do not do this – some think that the mouthwash is enough for the tongue and cheek – but they also need gentle brushing. These parts also hold on to bacteria, plaque, and food particles that give a smelly breath. So every time you brush, including the tongue and cheeks, too! Use a gentle, circular motion to thoroughly brush the surface of your tongue, the roof of your mouth and the insides of your cheeks.
Finish it up with a good rinse. Use water, and then use a mouthwash.
Tips for brushing teeth properly
It’s not enough that you know the procedure – read on to learn some vital tips for brushing teeth:
1. Pick the right toothbrush and toothpaste
First of all, make sure the brush part can cover the places that need covering, whether it’s a manual or a battery-powered toothbrush. The size of the brush head is an important consideration, especially if you have a smaller mouth. If you are concerned about reaching the hard-to-reach places in your mouth and a regular-sized brush can’t handle it, consider a toothbrush with a smaller head. Toothbrushes today come in different colors and designs, and some come with various sizes of handles and levels of flexibility. The choice is up to you.
But the non-negotiable rule is that you have to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. It must be able to bend and get right to the area under the gums. If you select a brush with tough bristles, you may be causing tooth abrasion and gum damage.
When it comes to toothpaste, choose an American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpaste.
2. Massage only, not scrub
Hard brushing doesn’t do your teeth any good. You’re not trying to clean the gout in your bathroom tiles, so don’t go harsh on your mouth. Plaque is soft and loose, so you don’t need to scrub hard. The best way to avoid the tendency to scrub is to think of brushing as a massage for the teeth.
When you brush, the important thing is to use short and precise strokes, so you don’t cause trauma to your gums and mouth. Brush the entire surface of the tooth, gums, and inner mouth in a gentle motion.
3. Take your time
Brushing must take at least two minutes each time. Three minutes is good. If you’re late or if you really want to get to bed, you may get tempted to cut the brushing short. But we encourage you not to. This length is necessary to ensure that your teeth are clean and that you cover all the areas in your mouth. If you think it’s a long time, setting up a timer on your phone can help. You can also invest in a toothbrush with an automatic timer if you want.
4. Replace toothbrush as needed
Sometimes, you find a good toothbrush, and it becomes hard to throw away. But when you see the bristles becoming bent, discolored or dirty-looking, it’s time to give it up. A toothbrush loses its cleaning powers when the bristles become frayed. A good rule of thumb is to change it at least every three to four months. It’s also better to keep it in the open-air container to prevent mold and bacteria from growing on it when you put it back on the toothbrush holder when it’s wet.
5. Don’t forget the gum line
Bacteria hangs out in the area where your tooth meets the gum. But most people miss that area a lot because we focus on chewing surfaces only. We have about a millimeter of gum tissue – may be up to two to three millimeters – in the area where the tooth comes outside the gums. This area still has to be reached by the brush, and this is why the bristle needs to be soft and able to bend.
6. Angle your toothbrush
To do tip #5, you have to angle your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line. This can help you get rid of the plaque and food particles that are on your gum line. Do this both on the outer and inner surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.
7. Don’t forget your tongue
As mentioned earlier, the tongue must be included in your brushing routine. Brushing the tongue is an important part of maintaining proper oral hygiene and care. If you overlook this step, you may notice that your breath isn’t that fresh even if you know you have brushed your teeth. Gently brush the surface of your tongue and try to get in the sides of the tongue that meets the teeth as well.
8. Avoid brushing immediately after eating
Sometimes, you are running late, and you needed to brush after you eat your breakfast. It’s tempting to do this as a habit, but you may want to back off just a tad. After eating, you have acid sitting in your mouth and brushing it right away means you are going to remove it using abrasives. In a way, this means you are helping the acid erode away your tooth. It would be best to wait for 15 to 20 minutes after eating before you brush. That will be long enough for the saliva in the mouth to get rid of the acid before you brush. If you really don’t have time to wait, you can rinse out your mouth first with water before brushing to get rid of some of the acids beforehand.