Yes, you’ve been told before. But the truth is, it is likely the most important thing you can do for good dental health. Brushing is your best defense against plaque, the starting place for tartar, cavities, and gum disease.
As the keystone of good dental health, knowing how to brush effectively can significantly reduce your risk of dental problems. Remember that regular maintenance is key—be sure to brush and floss two times a day.
Make an Orderly Habit
First, floss before you brush.
Brush the outside surface of your top teeth first, then the outside of your bottoms. Brush back and forth, making sure that you contact both your teeth and your gums, holding your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth.
Pay extra attention to your molars at the back, and remember that you’re likely to brush the teeth on the left side of your mouth better than the right side if you’re right-handed. (And vice-versa.)
Switch to brushing up & down, focusing on each individual tooth, as you move to brush the insides of your top teeth, and then the insides of the bottom.
Finally, go back to long, back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth, first for the top, and then the bottom.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Two. Whole. Minutes.
That’s how long you should brush for. Yes, that’s quite a while, but this is the mark to shoot for. Set a timer to get used to how long two minutes really is—many people overestimate the amount of time they spend brushing.
Toothbrushes Aren’t Just for Teeth
Your tongue needs regular cleaning, too, and your toothbrush works well for the task. To keep your breath fresh, be sure to brush your tongue when you brush your teeth. This helps to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Change Your Toothbrush
When your toothbrush starts to show signs of wear, it’s time for a new one. Even if it’s still looking new, change it out after three months. As toothbrushes can harbor germs, it’s also a good idea to replace your toothbrush as you recover from a cold or other illness to prevent re-infection. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Other than that, choose what you’re most comfortable with.
Choose Your Toothpaste
There is a wide variety of toothpaste available, many intended to address specific dental needs. From whitening to tartar control to extra fluoride to sensitive teeth, there is sure to be a toothpaste right for you. Take a moment to speak with your dentist or hygienist at your next appointment to be sure you’re using a type that best supports your individual dental needs.