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ASK YOUR DENTIST 14. - Toothbrush techniques


I have noticed that on this website you always mention proper toothbrushing technique, but you never explain what that entails. Could you please enlighten us and explain what exactly proper toothbrushing is? I am fairly confident that as a grown man I don’t need to be taught how to brush my teeth, but as you always mention it, I am now curious.


Dear Allen,

It takes a lot of courage for a “grown man” (or woman, for that matter) to admit that something they have known for a long time to be right may not be so, and to try and take steps to rectify the situation. I applaud your ability to write this letter, as these are not simple things to do, and it forces you to look at something that you thought you understood in a different light.

As you have so cleverly noted, I do spend a lot of time saying that you need to utilize proper oral hygiene. This means that you do not simply brush your teeth, you also floss and use mouthwash on a regular basis. This is important, as how well you brush does not prevent cavitation, only the use of floss can give you assurance of this.

toothbrush type

You should brush first. When brushing your teeth, make sure you do not press down too hard, as this will scrub off your enamel as well as the plaque. Make sure you are gentle but effective, but usually, patients brush too hard, it is very rare for a patient to be brushing too gently. When brushing, do not go up and down, as this will leave ridges in your teeth, ridges that bacteria can stick to, and they are unsightly anyway.  Use circular movements, as this will not create ridges or any sort of problems, and will clean just as effectively. When brushing, go from the gums towards the bottom of the tooth, in the front first, and the in the back. This way, you can be sure you are removing everything. Take the time to do it right, take a full two or three minutes to brush everything off, and do not be lazy about it, it is your teeth we are talking about, you don’t get new ones.

After brushing, you should then use the dental floss. When using it, put it in as close to the gum line as you can, and move downwards. This is important, because when you go the other way, you are smooshing germs into the area beneath your gum line, right near the neck of your teeth, which is not a good place to have germs, as they are difficult to remove from there. Also, do not use the same piece of floss for all of your teeth, sue a new piece for every tooth, otherwise you are just transplanting germs from one place to the other.

Lastly, when you are done brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth out with water and then with mouthwash. This will destroy all of the germs you have just loosened up, and will kill all of the biofilm you may have in your mouth.

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