How to Properly Brush Your Teeth: The Brushing Basics

You've been brushing your teeth for as long as you can remember, for nearly your entire life. Who needs a Brushing 101 lesson? Not you. Or do you? Just because it's something that's been part of your daily routine for years doesn't necessarily mean it's something you're doing properly. We know—we hate to burst your perfect brushing bubble! But brushing properly is the gateway to healthy, happy teeth.

Dental Hygiene

The Brushing Basics

Brushing your teeth twice a day isn't always enough. There are plenty of other factors to consider in terms of complete oral care in relation to brushing your teeth.  Did you know you should replace your toothbrush every 3–4 months? Sooner, if the bristles get frayed.A worn toothbrush can't effectively clean your teeth. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth well, and the bristles should be soft.

It's All About The Technique- How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

Brushing your teeth is one basic part of your routine that's vital to your dental health. And knowing how to brush your teeth properly is even more important. Follow this step-by-step routine to learn the best way to brush your teeth every day:2

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and help keep your breath fresh!
  •  Two minutes per day, two times per day. Remember that.

How to Brush Your Teeth with an Electric Toothbrush

Both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque.1 Brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush is very similar to brushing with a conventional toothbrush, but they can offer extra help for people with dexterity issues.

Follow these steps so you know exactly how to brush your teeth properly with an electric toothbrush.

  • Wet your electric toothbrush bristles with water and add a pea-sized piece of toothpaste.
  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and move your toothbrush gently back and forth in short movements. Remember to use   gentle pressure to avoid hurting your gums.
  • Clean the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth with your electric toothbrush.
  • Don't forget to brush your tongue!
  • The same as with a manual toothbrush, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes. 

How to Brush Your Teeth When You Have Braces

Brushing your teeth when you have braces will follow the same steps as both how-to's above, but you may have a few more things to consider. With braces, there are a lot more nooks and crannies where food can get stuck and it may be more difficult to get your toothbrush bristles everywhere they need to go. Some people prefer a smaller toothbrush head or an electric toothbrush for brushing with braces.

Read on for some tips for brushing with braces:

  • Try different toothbrush sizes or types to see which one works best around your braces
  • Make sure to take special care brushing around your braces, including under wires and pins. Brush the actual wires of your braces to, so that they're clear of any food or particles.
  • Pick up some interproximal or interdental brushes. These are tiny little brushes that are great for getting to anything stuck between your braces wires and the teeth. It is also effective against plaque in those areas.
  • Now that you have a quick reminder how to brush your teeth, get brushing! If you're looking for more dental health topics, explore our oral care resources on cavities, bad breath and dental hygiene
  1. Oral Health Topics: Toothbrushes. American Dental Association. Accessed 2/12/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in the source PDF.
  2. Brushing Your Teeth. Mouth Healthy. Accessed 6/16/21. Referenced text is highlighted in the source PDF.

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