We all brush our teeth, but not all of us know the proper way to brush to maximize the cleaning effect and reduce cavities and the potential for periodontal disease.
- Make sure you have the proper brush. Hard bristles are too abrasive to the teeth and gums, so make sure your toothbrush is soft with a rounded-end bristle. Discard brushes when the bristles are bent or frayed. Generally, you should change toothbrushes every 4-5 months.
- Place the head of the brush beside your teeth, with the bristles angled against the gum line (where the teeth and gums meet). Think of the brush as both a toothbrush and a gum brush. With the bristles contacting both tooth and gum, move the brush back and forth several times across each tooth individually. Use a short stroke and a gentle scrubbing motion, as if the goal were to massage the gum. Don’t try to force the bristles under the gum line; that will happen naturally, especially with a brush that has soft, flexible bristles. Brush the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Then use the same short back-and-forth strokes on the inside surfaces.
- Try to concentrate harder on the inside surfaces; studies show they’re more often neglected. For the upper and lower front teeth, brush the inside surfaces by using the brush vertically and making several gentle up-and-down strokes over the teeth and gums.
- Finish up by lightly scrubbing the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.
- You should also brush your tongue for fresher breath.