Even though it seems we’ve brushed our teeth a thousand times, it can be hard to thoroughly clean each part of our mouths. Here’s how to properly brush your teeth and tips to keep your smile healthy, white and clean. 

Common Mistakes

Although we brush our teeth every day, we all make mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth. 

  • Picking the wrong brush: Some people choose a toothbrush with hard bristles or with a head that is too big to fit their mouth. Brushing with hard bristles does not mean your teeth will be cleaner, it’s actually the opposite. 
  • Brushing too hard: When you scrub your teeth too hard, it can weaken your enamel which is the protective covering on your teeth. 
  • Not brushing long enough: In order to keep your teeth clean, you need to brush for 2 minutes twice a day. 
  • Brushing the wrong way: Brush up and down in circular motions, not back and forth. 
  • Forgetting the gum line: Food gets lodged underneath your gum line, and if you don’t brush it out on time it may lead to an infection. Try and gently brush a millimeter or two beneath your gum line. 

Risks

Beyond bad breath and stained teeth, poor oral hygiene can leave a lasting impact on your mouth and body. While the more obvious risks include gingivitis, cavities, and tooth decay, it may also lead to more serious problems like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. 

How To Properly Brush Your Teeth

It may seem silly to demonstrate how to properly brush your teeth, but everyone could use a friendly reminder. Keep these tips in mind the next time you go to brush your teeth. 

  • Technique: Brush with short, gentle strokes and tilt your brush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line. Go from top to bottom and softly brush the inside/backs of each tooth. Brush behind your bottom teeth by tilting your brushing vertically while making up and down strokes in short circular motions.
  • Duration: Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each. To make it easier, focus on each quadrant of your mouth for 30 seconds each (top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left). 
  • Toothbrush: Brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush with a small head that brushes the hard to reach areas of your mouth. Hard-bristle brushes are unfavorable since they can erode your tooth enamel. Soft bristles are best for fighting plaque and debris. 
  • Targeting: If you have specific needs, like tooth sensitivity, gingivitis, tartar or cavities, find a toothpaste and rinse that targets these problems. 
  • Aftercare: Don’t forget to brush your tongue after you’ve finished brushing your teeth for two minutes. Cleaning your tongue not only brushes away bacteria, but it also helps fight against bad breath. It’s also important to use a daily rinse (particularly a mouth wash that’s specific to your oral hygiene needs) and floss once a day. If you find it hard to floss, a good alternative is to use a dental pick. 

It’s also important to switch out your toothbrush every so often. The general rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush after three months of use. You should also replace your toothbrush when the bristles are visibly worn or after you’re sick. Worn bristles lose their effectiveness and won’t brush your teeth that well. If you forget to replace your toothbrush, thousands of microbes may harbor in your brush which can potentially cause an infection.