Are you brushing your teeth correctly?

Using proper technique when brushing your teeth is important. There’s much more to brushing your teeth than loading up your brush with toothpaste and sawing rapidly back and forth.

What is the right technique?

First of all, that sawing action is a no-no. It will damage your enamel and miss the debris between your teeth. Instead, place your bristles gently where your teeth meet your gums. With your upper teeth hold the brush with the bristles pointing at 45 degrees upward and move the brush in very small circles. When brushing teeth on the bottom, start at your gum line and point the brush down at 45 degrees in towards the teeth, in both cases you will feel the bristles getting in between the teeth as much as they can to clean efficiently. Repeat this motion for all tooth surfaces on both sides of your teeth.

I usually advise right handed people to start at the bottom left on the cheek side and clean teeth one at a time moving forward slowly until you get to the front right incisors. Then swap the brush to the back hand and carry on brushing one tooth at a time until you get right to the back on the bottom right side.

After that you repeat the action on the tongue side of the bottom right and one tooth at a time clean the teeth swapping from back hand to forehand behind the incisors and clean all the way to the back left on the tongue side! Whew!

Then using gentle ‘wiggly’ motions to help bristles access all nooks and crannies, glide your bristles along the top of your back teeth surfaces.

Then repeat the process with the upper teeth starting at the top left outside.

Lastly, don’t forget to brush your tongue because it carries bacteria too.

Use the right kind of toothbrush

Make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Stiffer brushes don’t clean better and they can damage tooth enamel and cut into the root surface of the tongue making the teeth very sensitive.

 Your toothbrush may last for months, but make sure to get a new one if bristles start to fray. Let it air dry thoroughly after each use. If you are using the proper technique it will not look like a toilet brush after a couple of weeks with the bristles all splayed out!

Don’t press hard when brushing teeth. Pressing hard isn’t more effective and could cause damage.

Don’t forget toothpaste

Use toothpaste when brushing at least twice a day. Not only will it help inhibit bacterial growth, which causes cavities, but it will make your mouth feel and taste clean. Rinse your mouth thoroughly, even if you’re not using toothpaste. You don’t want any food particles etc. left behind.

Get the timing right

Spend at least two minutes brushing or you may not be cleaning well enough. If it’s hard to keep track of time, set a timer.

Although most people think it’s best to brush right after eating, it’s better to wait up to an hour. This allows your saliva to neutralise the acid in your food. This way, when brushing your teeth, you won’t be cutting into the softened tooth structure!

Using proper technique when brushing can help ensure you have fewer trips to the dentist and keep healthy teeth that last you a lifetime.