Have you been brushing your teeth all wrong?

From how often to what direction and how long – get the definitive answers on how to brush your teeth properly.

Have you been brushing your teeth all wrong - Number 18 Dental

It might be one of the first things we learn to do by ourselves, but at Number 18, we often see patients who struggle with their brushing technique. After all, when you learn this skill as a child, you may unknowingly cut corners and take bad habits with you into adulthood.

But neglecting certain parts of your mouth can compromise your dental hygiene. That’s why we’re going to run through the best way to brush your teeth.

7 tips for how to brush your teeth properly

  1. Firstly, ensure you have the proper tools. That’s a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles – so you can reach all areas of your teeth without causing excess wear – and fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities and encourage repair.
  2. Cover the length of your toothbrush head with toothpaste but don’t wet your toothbrush – this can have a diluting effect on the toothpaste.
  3. Begin by brushing the top surfaces of your teeth (or the parts that chew) first to soften up your brush for around 20 seconds each set. Be sure to twist and turn your brush head to get into the nooks and crannies and gradually work your way round from one side to the other.
  4. Now turn your attention to the backs of your teeth (facing the inside of your mouth), brushing in small circular motions for around 20 seconds each set.
  5. Finally, brush the outsides of your teeth. Starting at your gumline, angle your brush at around 45 degrees and brush upwards (or down if you’re starting with your top set) in small strokes towards the tip of the tooth (not up and down or side to side) for 20 seconds each set.

Tip: Try not to scrub too hard as this can cause wear to your enamel and cause sensitivity! The best amount of pressure is that which doesn’t cause the bristles to bend.

  1. Don’t forget to give your tongue a quick brush – this can help remove bacteria and means you’re less likely to wake up with that awful morning breath!
  2. Last but not least, don’t rinse! Whether you usually swill with mouthwash or water, you’re diluting the effects of the fluoride you’ve just applied to your teeth.

For more advice, watch the Oral B video on how to brush with a manual toothbrush

(Courtesy of YouTube/Oral B)

Want more dental hygiene tips?

The best times of the day to brush your teeth are always last thing before bed and at another point in the day. To keep your teeth strong, don’t brush within 1 hour after eating or eat within 1 hour of brushing – especially if it’s acidic foods like wine, orange juice, fizzy sweets/drinks or citric fruits.

Floss and/or use interdental brushes before cleaning your teeth at night time; it’s thought this could open up spaces between your teeth and gums, allowing toothpaste to get inside. And save your mouthwash for the middle of the day after eating.

Toothbrushes also get worn and dirty, so changing yours once every 3 months (or as soon as bristles start to splay) can help prevent irritation to your gums and keep your mouth healthy.

What about an electric toothbrush?

Many patients are convinced they need an electric toothbrush; however, this depends on how well you’re already cleaning your teeth with a manual toothbrush. If you opt for electric, get one with a small head and soft bristles that’s approved by the British Dental Association.

Another advantage of an electric toothbrush is that many come with inbuilt timers and can ensure you’ve brushed all areas of your mouth. Alternatively, time yourself for two minutes or use an app.

Maintain a healthy mouth today

If you’re experiencing pain, bleeding or inflammation when you brush, you could be exerting too much pressure, need to change your toothbrush, or have an underlying dental problem so it’s important to speak to your dentist. They will also be able to advise on brushing if you have braces or dentures.

Want to know how well you’re doing with your brushing? Book an appointment with our dental hygienist in Notting Hill today.


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