How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

Want advice on how to brush your teeth properly? Well, the first bit of advice I have is that the type of toothbrush you use isn’t nearly as important as:

  • The amount of time you spend cleaning each day
  • Employing a good, thorough technique.

Time and technique!  Remember that and you have a good start.

Now, do you recognize any of these habits in your brushing routine:

  • Wildly thrashing the toothbrush about, with little thought for where you are cleaning?
  • Scrubbing as hard and as fast as you can?
  • Hurrying about, concentrating on getting something else done as you scrub?
  • Concentrating on the front tooth surfaces only?


Girl unsure how to brush properly

Brushing advice doesn’t have to be complicated!


“Ok, So Maybe I’m Not Cleaning As Well As I Could”

You’re not alone; most people don’t have an ideal technique. Just stop for a few minutes and think about what you are doing when using your toothbrush! You may actually save time (and elbow-grease) by learning how to brush your teeth well.

Firstly, remember that every tooth surface needs to be cleaned. This involves cleaning every inside, outside and biting surface, both front and back. There is little point in having sparkling front teeth while the molars are being neglected!

Regardless of the type of toothbrush you use, to brush your teeth completely you need to:

"Worn Toothbrush"

A worn toothbrush like this will not be effective. Change it at least every three months

  • Spend two minutes cleaning, this might be longer than you think!
  • Do so twice a day, including last thing at night
  • Make sure you clean all around your mouth

Careful and complete removal of dental plaque from all the surfaces is one of the most important things you can do for your dental health. Properly removing dental plaque is a key aim of thorough brushing.


Step by Step Directions For Brushing Your Teeth

The following step by step advice will lead you in the right direction:

  • Use about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Use the appropriate type of toothpaste for your needs (read more here). Kids should be given a pea-sized smear unless otherwise directed (see our kids section for lots more advice)
  • Start in the same place each time, it doesn’t matter where. It is just important to set up a routine so you are less likely to leave anywhere out
  • Tilt the brush towards the gum at a 45 degree angle. This allows the bristles to clean just under the gum, where plaque tends to gather
  • Brush in small circular movements, moving the brush-head slowly along. Ensure several of these movements at each tooth. See these images
  • Concentrate on one corner of your mouth at a time, splitting the mouth into four
  • In each corner; brush the inside, outside and biting surfaces of each tooth
  • To reach the inside surfaces of the front teeth, you will need to hold the brush vertically. Then make the same small, circular motions to clean these areas
  • Gently brush the tongue to help keep it clean and your breath fresh
  • DO NOT rinse out our mouth after brushing with toothpaste. This will only rinse away the beneficial ingredients such as fluoride.  SPIT but DON’T RINSE!


Do you floss before or after brushing? – Best to floss first as this will remove debris and plaque from the interdental areas. Clearing this space then allows the beneficial ingredients of toothpaste to get in and work their magic.


"Image of children brushing their teeth"

Learning early on how to brush properly for kids has life-long benefits

If you are unsure whether you are brushing properly, using ‘disclosing’ tablets can help.  These use a safe dye to stain and show up any plaque that you have missed.  They are a useful aide in helping improve thorough technique and help you to learn how to brush your teeth properly.


Electric Toothbrush Use

The best way to use your electric toothbrush will depend, to an extent, on the type and model that you are using. So always read the instructions.

Regardless of the type of toothbrush you use for your oral health, how you use the toothbrush is what matters. The following are general tips on how to brush your teeth safely, using an electric toothbrush:

Image of an electric toothbrush

Using an electric toothbrush needs a slightly altered technique

  • Do not exert too much pressure when holding it against the tooth surfaces. As with a manual toothbrush, excess pressure can lead to damage of the enamel and gums
  • Gently move along to clean every surface. Have a system to ensure you don’t miss anywhere. For example, spend 30 seconds at each quarter of the mouth. Some of the top rated models will even remind you of when to move!
  • Make sure you reach the right the way to the back and the tongue-side of all the teeth
  • Electric toothbrushes do not provide a short-cut to thorough cleaning! You still need two minutes twice-a-day.


The Benefits Of Thorough Cleaning

Keep these tips in mind when you are carrying out your daily oral hygiene routine. If you know how to brush your teeth properly you are less likely to have long-term dental problems. Those two minutes cleaning twice-daily, that you might struggle to fit into your schedule, will actually save you a lot of time, energy and money through your life!


Remember that a toothbrush alone is not enough, so perhaps you might want to learn how to clean between your teeth next.

How long we spend brushing teeth

Further reading:

How to floss your teeth properly

Dentist recommended electric toothbrush advice

Some toothbrush reviews

Best floss advice

Best mouthwash

Toothpaste advice


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