Sometimes I feel like I’m just sticking a brush in my mouth and waving it around. We’re supposed to brush our teeth every day, twice! How have we never received any formal lesson on what to do once you put the toothpaste on the toothbrush? Are there brush strokes we should know about? Are we supposed to give our gums and tongue some attention? What is the correct form of tooth brushing?

Why It’s Important to Care

With the amount of traffic your mouth sees every day, it’s no wonder you need to clean it twice a day. A lot of people joke eating is their life, and it has some truth to it. The food you eat goes through your mouth first. What would happen if you don’t take care of the mouth that makes eating so enjoyable?

Well for starters, you could develop gum disease or tooth decay. Neglecting cleaning puts you at risk of swolleness, ache, bleeding, bad breath, and if it gets really bad, teeth falling out. Having a clean mouth is a great start to confidence and comfort, and all you have to do is move a brush around in your mouth a couple times a day.

Where You May Be Going Wrong

There are several common mistakes you could relate to -- nothing that can’t be fixed!

The Toothbrush Of Your Dreams

You enter the bathroom, equip yourself with your toothbrush. You may have already made a mistake. That’s right, let’s start with the type of toothbrush you’re using. 

Three soft bristle toothbrushes that look used and worn
These toothbrushes are soft bristle, yay! But they’re looking a bit worn, might be time to replace them.

Are you using a manual or power toothbrush? The choice is up to you, as long as you feel your selected brush is effective in reaching all the necessary areas of your mouth worth cleaning. But one golden rule your brush should always follow: soft bristles. The soft bristles have the flexibility to bend into the corners of your mouth a give a more thorough clean. Also be sure to replace your brush every three to four months, as a worn toothbrush isn’t going to do as well of a job. 

Slow and Steady

Like the tortoise in a race, you’re going to do your best if you take your time and don’t go too hard. In this sense, “going too hard” is the pressure you’re applying with your brush. Be gentle with your brush, and don’t speed through the process. 

It’s Brush Stroke Time

Time to get to the real action. The proper way to cleaning teeth is simple, I promise. Is this what you already do?

  • Start with the upper molars -- Angle your brush 45 degrees from the gum and for 20 seconds you should brush with small, circular motions.
  • Going clockwise -- From one end of upper molars, you’ll move your brush across until you reach your other set of upper molars. You’ll then transfer your brush to the bottom of your mouth. Starting from one side of lower molars and ending at the last set of lower molars. Meanwhile repeating the technique.
  • A brush on the inside -- You’ll repeat the process, this time on the inside of the molars. Once you’ve finished with the molars, brush the backside of your front teeth. For this, place the tip of your brush at the back of your teeth and flick the bristles down several times. You’ll then brush the inside of your lower front teeth, using the same technique as the top, except the brush flicks up.
  • Don’t forget the chomping part -- Your brush will then clean the last angle of tooth you’ll be able to get to: the surface. Use a circular brush stroke to thoroughly clean the biting areas of the molars and premolars. 
  • Tongue and cheek -- You can finish with brushing the rest of your mouth that has an equal opportunity to catching food particles, plaque, and bacteria. Your tongue, the inside of your cheek, and the roof of your mouth can be given a brush with gentle, circular motion.
  • Rinse and spit 
Close-up of a tongue sicking out
It’s not just your teeth. Your tongue could use some scrubbing too!

You’re Not Done Yet

As it turns out, the cleaning routine doesn’t conclude with brushing. I’m sure your dentist has been telling you the importance of flossing. You can also use a mouthwash if you want an extra finish. Putting a limit on the sugary snacks puts a limit on risk. And remember to visit your dentist for a professional cleaning every year. 

It may take a while to get used to a new routine of cleaning, but if it’s going to be better for your mouth, put in the effort of making it a habit.