Everyone needs to know how to brush their teeth the right way. So, we compiled a list of step-by-step instructions and frequently asked questions that can help even the most skeptical individuals.
Do you actually need to brush your teeth? Yes, you actually need to brush your teeth! Brushing your teeth is not only necessary to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis, but to support your overall health.
Teeth brushing may provide the following overall health benefits:
- A healthy immune system
- Reduced risk of heart attack or stroke
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Decreased dementia severity
- Reduced risk of premature birth or low birth weight infants
- Less bad breath
- Confidence in your smile
How long should you brush your teeth? The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. If you use a triple-sided toothbrush like Triple Bristle, you really only need to brush for 40 seconds.
Is brushing your teeth 3 times a day bad? No, brushing your teeth 3 times a day isn’t bad — as long as you’re using a non-abrasive toothpaste and proper brushing technique.
You should not brush your teeth directly after eating sugary or acidic foods. Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing after you eat these foods. Otherwise, you’re just rubbing the acids into your tooth enamel, which can lead to weaker and more sensitive teeth.
How to Brush Your Teeth: Step-by-Step Instructions
What is the proper way to brush your teeth? Follow these 6 step by step instructions:
- Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to your toothbrush. Most people (including children) actually use too much toothpaste, according to the CDC.
- Aim the bristles at a 45-degree angle towards your gum line. This helps your toothbrush disorganize the bacteria underneath your gum line.
- Brush in gentle circles on the front and inside surfaces of all your teeth. Don’t “saw” across your teeth in straight lines. Make sure to brush your inside surfaces with the same 45-degree angle and gentle circles.
- Gently brush your back teeth chewing surfaces in circles. These tooth surfaces harbor food particles that can feed harmful bacteria, so don’t forget this important step. Back teeth are particularly susceptible to cavities if chewing surfaces aren’t cleared of food particles.
- Spit out the toothpaste after you finish brushing. Do not rinse your mouth out if you’re using fluoride toothpaste or hydroxyapatite toothpaste. The fluoride/hydroxyapatite needs to linger on your teeth to exert its protective benefits.
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry, head up. Putting your toothbrush in a sealed container encourages harmful bacteria growth. Air drying means later toothbrushing is effective and healthy.
The ADA recommends you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. Many people break up the 2 minutes into four 30-second increments, focusing on one quadrant of their mouth during each segment.
Picking the Right Toothbrushing Tools
Toothbrushes are the bedrock of dental health.
Electric toothbrushes prevent gum disease and tooth decay better than manual toothbrushes.
Soft bristles are better than hard bristles, which can damage your tooth enamel and gum line.
3-sided toothbrushes help you achieve cleaner teeth in less than half the time That’s why I designed the patented Triple Bristle triple-sided toothbrush, which includes a charger, tongue cleaner, and 2 brush heads.
The brush heads on an electric toothbrush need to be replaced every 3-4 months. As the bristles of your brush head fray, they become surprisingly ineffective. Click here to check out our 2-pack of Triple Bristle premium replacement heads.
Toothpaste polishes your teeth and makes your mouth feel fresh and clean. Some kinds of toothpaste contain whitening ingredients (which I do not generally recommend — they’re very abrasive).
Using fluoride toothpaste (alternatively, hydroxyapatite toothpaste) helps prevent cavities and, to a lesser extent, gum disease.
However, fluoride is a controversial ingredient. More and more people are opting for fluoride-free toothpaste.
Floss is just as important as your toothbrush. Flossing is vital to removing hard-to-reach plaque and food particles from in between your teeth.
I find that unwaxed dental floss is superior, partly because it squeaks whenever the tooth is clean.
Click here to view Triple Bristle’s strong unwaxed dental floss. We offer free US shipping!
You can also use interdental brushes to take the place of floss; they work just as well.
Tongue scrapers (tongue cleaners) are specifically designed to clean the surface of your tongue. Clearing bacteria from this problem spot can fight bad breath.
Click here to buy Triple Bristle’s 3-pack of high-quality, silicone tongue cleaners, free US shipping included.
Mouthwash is unnecessary in most cases.
An antibacterial mouth rinse may actually damage your overall oral health because it kills beneficial bacteria in your oral microbiome alongside the harmful bacteria. It might also lead to dry mouth, which is a problem on its own.
How to Brush Your Teeth With An Electric Toothbrush
Here’s how to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush:
- Use a pea-sized glob of toothpaste.
- Hold your electric toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line.
- If your electric toothbrush vibrates only, use gentle circles when you brush across your tooth surfaces. If your electric toothbrush vibrates and rotates, you do not need to use gentle circles; simple up and down strokes will do the trick.
- Brush back and forth against your chewing surfaces, not too roughly.
- Air dry your electric toothbrush. Many premium toothbrushes come with cases or tubes to put them in. Do not use these cases right after you brush. Air drying your toothbrush is always essential for preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Electric toothbrushes are generally better than manual toothbrushes for proper dental care. When you manually brush, your speed is approximately 300 strokes per minute. Electric toothbrushes increase that speed up to 7,500 strokes per minute.
If we all had 100% proper brushing technique, manual toothbrushes would be acceptable. Unfortunately, we are human. (And some of us are a little lazy, which is totally understandable.)
Research consistently shows that electric toothbrushes make up for human error and improve tooth brushing’s benefits. The use of electric toothbrushes has been linked to fewer cavities and lower risk of periodontitis (gum disease).
Note: Because electric toothbrushes clean your teeth at higher speeds, the brush heads may fray more quickly. Always replace your brush head when it starts to get frayed — usually every 1-3 months.
How to Brush Your Teeth When You Have Braces
Step-by-step instructions on how to brush your teeth when you wear braces:
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your brackets, next to your gum line. Use gentle circles to brush between the gum line and braces. Spend a few seconds on each tooth.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gum line. Use gentle circles and spend a few seconds on each area.
- Hold your toothbrush directly on top of your brackets. Use gentle circles to brush the face of the braces.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your brackets, next to the chewing surface of your teeth.
- Gently brush back and forth against your chewing surfaces.
- Use gentle circles at a 45-degree angle to your gum line to brush the inner surfaces of your teeth.
Brushing your teeth with braces takes 5-10 minutes. However, it is imperative that you maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine while you wear braces. Good oral hygiene with braces includes brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.
Rinsing your mouth out with water may be helpful before you brush your teeth, or after you eat a snack if you’re not planning on brushing your teeth till later.
Click here to read how Triple Bristle toothbrushes work great with braces!
How to Brush Your Teeth With Spacers
Most experts agree you can brush your teeth normally to brush correctly with spacers.
Some dentists, however, suggest brushing the surfaces of the back teeth with back and forth strokes instead of gentle circles that could pull the spacers up.
Do not floss where the spacers are.
Orthodontic separators, commonly known as “spacers”, are rubber bands that go between your back teeth and typically make room for braces to be installed. Most times, braces are put in about a week after you get spacers.
It may feel like you have meat or popcorn stuck in your teeth. Eat normally. If the spacers fall out, it may simply be because they have separated your teeth the correct amount.
How to Brush Your Teeth After a Tooth Extraction
When you get a tooth extraction, a blood clot forms where the tooth was extracted. Protecting this blood clot is of the utmost importance to prevent dry socket. When you brush your teeth after an extraction, do not aggravate the blood clot site.
Step-by-step how instructions on how to brush your teeth after tooth extraction:
- Brush your remaining teeth twice each day to make sure your mouth remains clean and healthy. Avoid the teeth adjacent to the extraction site on the first day thereafter. Avoid allowing the brush to touch the extraction site for at least 3 days.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to slowly clean your mouth, using slow circular motions. The insides of your cheek, your gums, even your tongue.
- Clean your tongue to get rid of bad breath or an unpleasant taste. Click here to check out Triple Bristle’s patented tongue scrapers specifically designed for this purpose.
- You should return to normal brushing and flossing a week after tooth extraction.
If your dentist puts stitches in the extraction area, he or she will let you know if you need to take any extra steps, such as rinsing your mouth with a prescription chlorhexidine solution.
A dry socket occurs when you disturb that blood clot and reveal the nerves and bone underneath exposed. This is very painful.
To prevent dry socket after a tooth extraction:
- Avoid tobacco for at least 3 days.
- Avoid alcohol for at least 3 days.
- Drink plenty of water, but avoid sugary drinks for a few days.
- Don’t use straws for at least 1 week, since the suction could dislodge the blood clot.
- Avoid contact sports and strenuous physical activity for a few days.
How to Brush Your Teeth: For Kids
How you can brush your child’s teeth:
- Apply only a pea-sized smear onto an extra-soft-bristled toothbrush. More than a third of children use way too much toothpaste, so it’s wise to monitor how much toothpaste they apply.
- Sit the child in your lap, facing away from you. You may stand/crouch behind older children.
- Gently tilt the child’s head back against your chest. You need to see all his/her teeth: front teeth, back teeth, molars, etc.
- Aim the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle towards the gum line.
- Use gentle circular motions to brush the outer surfaces of every tooth and right underneath the gum line.
- Repeat for the inside surfaces.
- Brush back and forth on the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Brushing all their teeth should take about 2 minutes, just like with adults.
- Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste (if they’re using any) and not to swallow it.
7 tips on brushing teeth for kids:
- Like with adults, children should brush their teeth twice a day, 2 minutes each time.
- You should introduce tooth brushing to your child as soon as there are teeth to brush unless the child cannot tolerate it. (You don’t want to give the child traumatizing memories of tooth brushing that they’ll carry with them into adulthood.) Many parents are able to introduce teeth brushing at 12-18 months old.
- Some dentistry experts suggest you use a toothbrush with water when you start to brush your kid’s teeth. Most children are ready for some sort of toothpaste at 18-24 months. If you’re using fluoride toothpaste, try and help the child to best understand the importance of NOT swallowing the toothpaste.
- Many dental professionals recommend a child should start flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch one another. As with adults, flossing then brushing should comprise a healthy oral care routine.
- If your child’s gums are red and swollen, or there is still dental plaque (a white furry film) over their teeth, then you may need to adjust how you are brushing your child’s teeth.
- Typically, you may need to brush your child’s teeth for them until they are 5-6 years old.
- Toothbrush heads need to be replaced every 1-3 months before the bristles are frayed and become much less effective.
- Thornton-Evans, G., Junger, M. L., Lin, M., Wei, L., Espinoza, L., & Beltran-Aguilar, E. (2019). Use of Toothpaste and Toothbrushing Patterns Among Children and Adolescents—United States, 2013–2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(4), 87. Full text: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/pdfs/mm6804a3-H.pdf
- Valkenburg, C., Slot, D. E., Bakker, E. W., & Van der Weijden, F. A. (2016). Does dentifrice use help to remove plaque? A systematic review. Journal of clinical periodontology, 43(12), 1050-1058. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27513809/
- Almas, K., Al-Sanawi, E., & Al-Shahrani, B. (2005). The effect of tongue scraper on mutans streptococci and lactobacilli in patients with caries and periodontal disease. Odonto-stomatologie Tropicale= Tropical Dental Journal, 28(109), 5-10. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16032940/
- Shanbhag, V. K. L. (2017). Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene–A review. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 7(1), 106-109. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198813/
- Kulkarni, P., Singh, D. K., & Jalaluddin, M. (2017). Comparison of efficacy of manual and powered toothbrushes in plaque control and gingival inflammation: A clinical study among the population of East Indian Region. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 7(4), 168. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5558249/
- Kiran, S. D., Ghiya, K., Makwani, D., Bhatt, R., Patel, M., & Srivastava, M. (2018). Comparison of Plaque Removal Efficacy of a Novel Flossing Agent with the Conventional Floss: A Clinical Study. International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 11(6), 474. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6611534/