How to Brush Your Teeth
Brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating. You should brush each time that you eat, to lower the risk of bacterial damage to the teeth due to food residue. Brush slowly for about two to three minutes (this is about the length of a song on the radio).
Brush smarter, not harder. Be gentle when brushing your teeth. Excessive force will injure your gums. Force is not necessary, as you are merely removing a daily buildup of plaque and food remnants, not stone. You should hold the brush gently with the tips of your fingers and thumb, as you would grip a pen, rather than in the palm of your hand.
Create a pattern for brushing your teeth. Start with the upper right tooth and work your way across the arch to the upper left. Then start in the lower left and work to the lower right. Make sure that you clean the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces of the tooth. When brushing the teeth in the back of your mouth, keep your mouth slightly closed. This will relax your muscles so that you can thoroughly brush the outer surfaces of your molar teeth.
Choose a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard and medium toothbrushes are for cleaning dentures, not for cleaning your teeth. A large toothbrush will not let you focus on each individual tooth and will tend to damage the gum tissue. Larger brushes also make it more difficult to get into the harder to reach places of your mouth.
The Modified Bass Brushing Technique
- Hold the toothbrush head against your teeth horizontally, with the bristles part way on the gums.
- Tilt the brush head to a 45-degree angle, so the bristles are pointing under the gum line.
- Use very short horizontal or circular strokes to move the toothbrush, so that the tips of the bristles stay in one place while the brush head moves back and forth. This allows the bristles to slide gently under the gum. Do this for about 20 strokes to ensure that you remove as much plaque as possible.
- Roll or flick the brush so that the bristles move out from under the gum toward the biting edge of the tooth. This helps move the plaque out from under the gum line.
- Repeat for every tooth, so that all tooth surfaces and gum lines are cleaned.
- For the insides of your front teeth, hold the brush head vertically rather than horizontally. Again, use gentle back and forth brushing action and finish with a roll or flick of the brush toward the biting edge.
- To clean the biting or chewing surfaces of the teeth, hold the brush so the bristles are straight down on the flat surface of the molars.
- Gently move the brush back and forth or in tiny circles to clean the entire surface.
- Move to a new tooth or area until all teeth are cleaned.
- Rinse with water to clear the mouth of food residue and removed plaque.
- You can clear even more bacteria out of your mouth by brushing your tongue. With your toothbrush, brush firmly but gently from back to front. Do not go so far back in your mouth that you gag. Rinse again.
Consideration for brushing children’s teeth
Children who develop the habit of having their teeth brushed at an early age are more likely to maintain healthy teeth into their adulthood. Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth. Use a baby brush and a small (pea-sized) smear of fluoride toothpaste. At this age, an electric toothbrush is not suitable.
Children under seven generally need help brushing their teeth, as they may not posses the physical dexterity to fully cover all areas of the mouth. A common technique is to stand behind them and hold the brush, guiding it with them as they brush. This will help them become accustomed to the correct brushing procedure. There are also products on the market, such as Listerine Blue, that are designed to help children learn brushing techniques.
We recommend the rechargeable electric toothbrushes made by Sonicare, Braun Oral B Plaque Remover, and Rotadent. We do not recommend battery-powered spin brushes, as we find that they do not work as well and they are too harsh to the gum tissue.
When using an electric toothbrush, we strongly advise that you read the operating instructions supplied prior to any use. Use of an electric toothbrush differs slightly from that of a manual brush, and the instructions should be followed to ensure optimum cleaning performance. Different electric toothbrush models may use different techniques.
Electric toothbrushes usually do much of the brushing for you, meaning you move the brush around much less and let the motorized bristle head do the work. Gently and slowly move the brush over each tooth’s surface. If you use too much pressure or brush for too long, this will lead to various problems, such as damage to the gums initiating the onset of gingivitis or damaging tooth enamel. With the application of the correct pressure, you will be able to achieve a focused deep cleaning action on all areas.
Floss is a tool that is used to scrape plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line. Regular flossing will reduce cavities, gum disease and bad breath. You should floss at least once a day. You can floss either before or after you brush. You may experience some bleeding at first. Don’t worry, this is normal.
Take 12 to 18 inches of floss and grasp it so that you have a couple inches of floss taut between your hands. Guide the floss between the teeth. Pull the floss against one side of the tooth, creating a “tight C”. Pull the floss under the gums, then pull back up. Proceed to the other tooth involved in the contact and use it to gently rub the side of each tooth.
There are many different varieties of mouthwash on the market. We find that many of these have very little value in preventing cavities or in reducing gum disease.
Listerine is a reputable antibacterial mouthwash with a lot of evidence regarding the benefits of its daily use. Studies have shown that it is more effective in preventing gum disease than any other non-prescription brand.