How to Take Care of Your Teeth With Proper Brushing

You probably learned how to take care of your teeth at an early age. Maintaining these habits throughout your life is important not only for your mouth, but for your overall health and well-being. That's why it never hurts to have a refresher course to make sure you're doing it correctly.

Here are some reminders on proper brushing procedures to keep your teeth and gums at their healthiest.

Do you have the right tools?

The first step is making sure you have the right toothbrush and toothpaste. Most dentists suggest a soft-bristled brush with a smaller head. A soft-bristled brush is gentler on the teeth and gums, while a brush with a small head allows you to get to hard-to-reach areas more easily. Electric toothbrushes are a good option for cleaning too, but regular toothbrushes are effective when used properly.

Make sure you replace your toothbrush every three months. Replace it sooner if it shows visible wear. Worn out bristles aren't as effective at cleaning the teeth and can damage the enamel and gums. Also replace your toothbrush if you've been sick so you don't infect yourself again.

There are many different types of toothpaste on the market. A variety of formulas target all kinds of conditions, such as sensitive teeth, whitening or staining. Ask your dentist to recommend the best one for your teeth.

Take Your Time

Once you have the right tools, make sure you're putting enough time into caring for your teeth. Two minutes twice a day is the recommendation from the American Dental Association (ADA) for brushing your teeth. Most of us don't come close to putting in our full two minutes of toothbrushing. It's only four minutes out of the day. You have the time. Set a timer or use a stopwatch to make sure you brush for the full two minutes until you get the hang of it.

Check Your Technique

Brushing for two minutes isn't effective unless you have proper technique, though. Use short, gentle strokes when brushing, and make sure you brush all the way up to the gum line and all the way back to the areas that are more difficult to reach.

Start with the outer surfaces of your teeth; brush the top teeth and then move to the outer surfaces on the bottom. Repeat with the inner surfaces. Use the tip of the toothbrush when brushing the back of the front teeth. Then brush the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.

Don't forget your tongue. Your tongue is rough, and can trap small particles of food and bacteria. Brushing it will remove anything that may cause bad breath.

By using good brushing techniques, putting in the full two minutes each session and using the right toothbrush and toothpaste you'll have a healthier smile. Learn more about how to take care of your teeth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.