We are all aware of the fact that our oral health affects our general health. Despite this, most people don’t follow basic dental hygiene tips. Brushing your teeth twice a day is the topmost requirement to maintain a healthy set of teeth. This can help you to avoid common toothache problems such as cavities, tooth decay and gum diseases. In the below infographic post, we’ll guide you on how to brush your teeth properly step-by-step with the right brushing techniques. This will help you to improve your dental health while keeping your teeth clean and strong.
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A] How to Brush Your Teeth Properly Step-by-step
- Step 1: Outside of the Teeth: The correct way to brush teeth is to begin with the outer surfaces. Place your brush at a 45° angle while brushing the upper and lower teeth of the outside surface and gum line. Ensure that you don’t rush through the process. You can slow down the process by gently brushing each tooth so you won’t miss any spot. While brushing in circular movement, use short and wide strokes to get rid of trapped food particles.
- Step 2: Inside of the Teeth: Cleaning the inside of your teeth is also vitally important to maintain good oral hygiene. Hold the brush at a 45° angle as you brush the inner surface. Here too, ensure that you gently brush the tooth as well as the gum line.
- Step 3: Chewing Surfaces: The chewing surface refers to the back of your teeth. Hold the toothbrush flat while brushing your upper and lower back teeth. Maintain a steady, gentle pressure to remove the trapped food debris.
- Step 4: Clean Your Tongue: To avoid bad breath, don’t forget to clean your tongue. This will help you to get rid of the odour-causing bacteria leaving you with a clean, fresh breath. Use a gentle, circular motion to clean your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and the insides of your cheeks.
Further reading: Importance of Visiting the Dentist Every 6 Months
B] Effective Brushing Techniques
- Use the Right Toothbrush: Choosing the right size toothbrush for your mouth will help you to thoroughly clean your teeth and remove plaque from hard-to-reach places. There are generally two types of toothbrushes available in the market: a hard-bristled toothbrush and a soft-bristled toothbrush. For gentle brushing and greater comfort, opt for a soft, rounded toothbrush with multi-level bristles. This is the safest choice compared to a hard-bristled toothbrush which can damage your root surface, gums, and tooth enamel.
- Hold the Toothbrush Properly: The best way to brush your teeth is to hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle. This is an ideal angle for brushing teeth as it ensures that the bristles are pointed to where the teeth and gums meet.
- Use Toothpaste With Fluoride: For cleaning teeth and keeping your mouth minty fresh, opt for toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent cavities and removes plaque-causing bacteria efficiently. It can also prevent the early stages of tooth decay and strengthen the enamel around your teeth.
- Use Gentle, Circular Motions: To avoid injuring your gums, make sure to use gentle, circular motions while brushing your teeth. To clean your entire mouth thoroughly, focus on one small group of teeth at a time. Start with the outer surface then move inside, follow this by brushing the chewing surfaces, and finally clean your tongue.
- Bass or Sulcular Technique: One of the best brushing techniques, the Bass or Sulcular technique includes holding the toothbrush at a 45° angle and using circular motions, gently moving the bristles under the gumline. With this technique, you can scrub off the plaque underneath the gums, thereby preventing the formation of tartar that leads to gum diseases. Next, place the toothbrush in a vertical position to brush the outer surface of the teeth. Make use of the bristles on the toe side of the brush to remove food particles lodged in between the teeth.
- Stillman Method: In the Stillman method, the focus is on cleaning the chewing surfaces to eliminate cavity-causing bacteria. Use short circular strokes to clean this area. Also, tilt the brush to clean the underside of the gum line. Here, use half of the bristles to clean the tooth surface and the other half to clean the gums.
- Charter Technique: This brushing technique is ideal for people with exposed root, gum recession, and those who have spaces between their teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and place the bristles on the gum line while pointing them towards the chewing surface. Now, use gentle, circular motions to vibrate the brush for at least 15 to 20 counts. Repeat the same on the next area, brushing all tooth surfaces (inner & outer), plus the chewing surfaces of the molars. This technique is the opposite of the Bass and Stillman method and also recommended for patients with adult braces and/or fixed, partial dentures.
C] Common Brushing Mistakes to Avoid
- Scrubbing the Teeth Too Hard: This is one of the biggest brushing mistakes that you need to avoid. Most people have this misconception that scrubbing the teeth hard can remove all the plaque stuck between the teeth. This is far from true! In fact, brushing too hard can wear down your enamel and cause damage to the gum tissue.
- Rushing through the routine: It is recommended to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes at each time (in the morning and before going to sleep). This will help to effectively remove the build-up of plaque. Also, to ensure you or your kids are brushing for full 2 minutes, you can either play a song that has a 2-3 minute range or set a timer on your phone.
- Not changing the toothbrush often: This is another mistake that we often make, which could affect our dental as well as physical health. You know it’s time to change the toothbrush when the bristles bend or become discoloured. It is recommended to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Also, to keep bacteria and mold from growing on it, it is advised to keep the toothbrush in the open air when wet. More importantly, change your toothbrush after you have been sick as cold germs/bacteria can live on the toothbrush for days (or even weeks sometimes).
Further reading: Ways Your Dental Health Affects You
- Going back and forth: The correct way to brush your teeth is to go up and down in circular motions rather than going right to left (back and forth). Constant back and forth movement can damage the enamel of your teeth. Thus, for effective cleaning of teeth, make gentle, circular motions and avoid side-to-side movement.
- Ignoring the Gum Line: The key to optimal oral hygiene is to thoroughly clean your entire mouth. This includes the gum line, tongue, chewing surfaces, roof of the mouth as well as inside cheeks. You can use the Bass technique to clean your gum line. Also, clean your tongue regularly to avoid bad breath.
- Not Using Dental Floss: The thumb rule is to brush twice a day and floss at least once. Flossing helps to remove plaque from between the spaces of your teeth that is hard for the toothbrush to reach, thereby preventing bacterial growth. You need to gently manoeuvre the floss between the teeth until it meets the gum line. Here, hold the floss firmly against the tooth and rub along the surface with a gentle up and down movement. Repeat this process for all the remaining teeth.
- Brushing Soon After a Meal: It is recommended to wait for at least 60 minutes after a meal to brush your teeth. Brushing right after your meal can damage the tooth enamel and lead to erosion, especially if you’ve had acidic foods like lemon or soda. Thus, wait for at least 60 minutes so your saliva can neutralise any acid. Also, rinse your mouth before brushing to get rid of any leftover acid.
Further reading: Preventive Dentistry For Adults And Children
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
How long and how often should I brush my teeth?
Adults and kids should brush for full two minutes, twice a day to prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities.
What type of toothbrush should I use?
A soft-bristled toothbrush is an ideal type to brush your teeth with as it is gentle on your teeth and doesn’t cause any harm to the tooth enamel and gum line. However, ensure to use only gentle, circular motions as scrubbing too hard even with a soft-bristled toothbrush can cause dental damage.
What toothpaste should I use?
Toothpaste with fluoride is one of the most common types of toothpaste used. It is also the safest for adults as well as kids. For yellowed teeth, there is over-the-counter whitening toothpaste available. However, it is best to consult with your dentist before you opt for it. Likewise, there are other types of toothpaste available that are specially for people who have sensitive teeth. Some toothpaste comes with special cavity-fighting power while others can help fight tartar more effectively. But, no matter which you choose, it is best to talk to your dentist before you use it.
Can I over brush my teeth?
Brushing your teeth too often can cause more harm than good. Over-brushing can damage the tooth enamel and the gum line. Thus, it is best to avoid it and stick to the regular twice a day routine.
How often should I replace my toothbrush?
You should replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months to enjoy optimal dental and physical health.