Woman Brushing Her Teeth

How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

There are only a few hard and fast rules when it comes to how to brush your teeth. That said, many people still find them tough to follow. Good oral health starts with keeping your teeth and gums clean and can help you stave off cavities and gum disease1. Here’s how to properly brush your teeth and a few tips to help you stick with this healthy habit.

Step by Step Guide to Brushing Your Teeth Properly

brushing teeth at 45-degree angle

For a healthy mouth and smile, follow proper brushing techniques each time you brush your teeth.1

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. 
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth For?

how long should you brush your teeth?

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste.2 Most of us brush for only about 45 seconds — well short of two minutes.3 Brushing your teeth for two minutes has been shown to remove plaque and by using a fluoride toothpaste, there’s an associated decreased risk of cavities.2

How Many Times a Day Should You Brush Your Teeth?

how many times should you brush your teeth a day?

Make sure to brush your teeth twice each day, brushing all surfaces of your teeth.2 Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and apply gentle pressure to help reduce the risk of gingival injury.2 You should also clean between your teeth at least once a day.1 Bacteria lingers between your teeth in areas that your toothbrush can’t reach—flossing daily helps remove plaque and food particles from these places.1

What Are the Best Tooth Brushing Techniques?

woman brushing her teeth with pronamel

Studies show that excessively vigorous brushing can damage enamel.5 To practice good oral hygiene and avoid damaging your teeth or gums, gently move your toothbrush back and forth in short strokes.1

Remember to brush all surfaces of your teeth, including outer surfaces, the inner surface, and all chewing surfaces.1 If you struggle reaching the inside of your teeth, try tilting the brush vertically.1

How Long Should I Wait After Eating to Brush My Teeth?

How Long Before Eating To Brush Teeth?

If you typically brush after eating breakfast, try to wait at least 60 minutes.3 Waiting to brush is even more important if you eat or drink something acidic, such as citrus juices or soda. Brushing too soon after having acidic foods or drinks can remove enamel on your teeth that’s been weakened by the acid.3

Should You Brush Your Gums?

Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing at least twice every day, can help prevent gingivitis, cavities, and tooth loss.6 Brushing too hard or with hard bristles can damage your gums, so be sure to use good techniques.2,5

How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

It’s important to brush your teeth twice each day, but all of that brushing will wear out your toothbrush over time. Taking care of your toothbrush ensures you’ll be able to properly clean your teeth.2

  • Don’t share your toothbrush, as it can lead to an exchange of bacteria between people.
  • Clean your toothbrush thoroughly each time you use it to remove any remaining debris.
  • Store your toothbrush upright and allow it to air dry. A wet or moist toothbrush promotes bacteria growth.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If the bristles of your toothbrush become matted or frayed, replace it more frequently.

How Do I Brush My Teeth If I Have Braces? 

Brushing your teeth with braces (aka a fixed orthodontic appliance) is pretty straightforward, but it does take a couple of extra steps. Maintaining good oral hygiene is especially important when you have braces.4 After you get braces, follow these steps to brush your teeth properly.7

Girl With Braces Swimming
  • Get your toothbrush ready with a little bit of water and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Carefully clean around your braces, including under the wires and pins.
  • Brush the actual wires of your braces so that they’re free of any food particles that could cause plaque or bacteria buildup.
  • Brush your teeth as you normally would.

Brushing your teeth properly is one of the most important parts of a healthy dental care routine.1 Keep your mouth and teeth healthy by brushing and cleaning between your teeth each day. To learn about maintaining healthy teeth and gums, explore more articles from Pronamel.

Source Citations:

  1. Brushing your teeth. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth. Accessed 8/5/2022.
  2. Toothbrushes. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/toothbrushes. Accessed 8/5/2022.
  3. Bad brushing habits. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/brushing-mistakes-slideshow.  Accessed 8/5/2022.
  4. Braces. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/braces Accessed 8/5/2022.
  5. Sensitive Teeth. https://www.dentalhealth.org/sensitive-teeth. Accessed 12/16/2022.
  6. Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth. Accessed 12/16/2022.
  7. Should I floss or brush first? https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/should-i-floss-or-brush-first/. Accessed 12/16/2022.
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