August 22, 2014
Better Toothbrushing: Ten Tips

Better Toothbrushing: Ten Tips

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

How to brush your teeth may seem obvious. But most people fall short in their technique—or have just gotten sloppy over the years. These 10 tips can help you brush up on your brushing.

  • Brush at least twice a day: in the morning and before going to sleep. If you’ve had a lot of cavities or have periodontal disease, you might want to brush after lunch, too.
  • Brush for two minutes each time, 30 seconds per quadrant. A timer can help.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush that fits comfortably in your mouth and has a handle that’s easy to hold. Bristles that are too hard can irritate sensitive teeth and gums.
  • If you have certain restorations (such as a crown or bridge), you may need an even softer toothbrush that your dentist may provide or can recommend. You may also want to use an end-tufted brush—they have a small clump of bristles to better reach those hard-to-reach places.
  • Apply an adequate amount of fluoride toothpaste—a pea-sized dab is enough. Don’t rinse the brush as you use it, since this washes away the fluoride.
  • In general, brush by angling the toothbrush against your teeth, making sure to reach the gingival margin (gum line). Use short, gentle motions (not heavy-handed scrubbing), both on the outside and inside of the teeth, as well as on the chewing surfaces.
  • Don’t brush horizontally along the gum line. There are actually several different brushing techniques, with names like Bass, Stillman and Charters. For example, the Bass Method involves angling the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the tooth. You work on two or three teeth at a time, gently jiggling the brush in short strokes. Discuss with your dentist or dental hygienist which method is best for you.
  • Air-dry your toothbrush after use—don’t cover it.
  • Replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head on an electric brush) every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Some have colored bristles that turn white when it’s time for a change.
  • The American Dental Association also recommends flossing at least once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth where toothbrushes can’t reach.