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How’s Your Toothbrushing Technique?

How's your toothbrushing technique?
How’s your toothbrushing technique?

You already know how to keep your teeth healthy: brush twice per day, floss once, and see your dentist regularly. It sounds easy peasy, and for the most part, it is, but you do need to make sure that your toothbrushing technique is correct. If you’re not doing a good job brushing, that means that you’re not removing all of the plaque and bacteria that you could be removing. A poor toothbrushing job can lead to gingivitis, cavities, and halitosis (or bad breath). Since you don’t want any of these conditions, it pays off to make sure that your time spent brushing your teeth is being put to good use. Check out this list of tips for good toothbrushing technique.

Brush Long Enough

While quality of toothbrushing is important, so is quantity. Not only do you need to brush twice daily, but you should be doing so for two minutes at a time. Set a timer to see if you’re taking the full two minutes on your teeth; it might seem like an unnaturally long time, but that’s how long it takes to get all of your teeth clean. Once you get into the habit of brushing forB the right length of time, periodically check yourself with a timer so you don’t fall back into the habit of brushing for only a minute (or even less!)

Brush All of the Surfaces

If you’re taking the full two minutes to brush, you’re likely to hit all of the surfaces of all of the teeth. Still, it makes sense to be sure. Concentrating on one quadrant of your mouth at a time, be sure to brush not only the biting surfaces, but also the surfaces closest to your cheek and closest to your palate or tongue. If you have any large spaces or are missing any teeth, get those in-between surfaces that you can reach with the toothbrush, too. In addition, be sure to brush the back surface of the last teeth in your mouth (usually the second molars, if your wisdom teeth have been extracted).

Use the Right Tools

Use a soft-bristled brush that is the right size for your mouth, and replace it every three months or so. Not sure what the right size is? It should fit easily behind your last tooth and in the front corners of your upper and lower teeth. Also, you should be able to clean two or three teeth at a time with it. There are many different angles, bristle configurations and handles available, so choose what feels best in your hand and in your mouth. Double check to be sure that your toothpaste says that it’s ADA approved and, unless you have been told otherwise by your dentist or doctor, that it has fluoride, which strengthens teeth and helps prevent cavities.

Of course, brushing is not the only thing you need to do to ensure good oral health. Be sure to floss, and make an appointment to see your dentist every six months (or sooner if there’s a problem). Your dental hygienist can check your technique during your routine visits if you’re not sure that you’re brushing as effectively as you could be.

Creative Commons image by Nico Kaiser.