You may be surprised to know that most people don’t brush their teeth properly. They either don’t do it for long enough or their technique is lacking, or both. This is why regular teeth cleanings are important. At these visits, your dentist can reinforce proper technique and thoroughly clean the areas that you may have missed over the last six months.

But it’s also important to brush up on the best techniques for keeping your teeth clean at home, which is why we’re taking the time today to discuss how to brush your teeth properly.

Understand the Why

First off, you should know and understand the incentives to properly and regularly brushing your teeth. You also need to know when and how to brush. Every time you eat food or drink a beverage, bits of food and residue cling to your gums and teeth. The resulting debris and bacteria can morph into a sticky film called plaque. Left on your teeth too long, it can calcify. This hardened plaque is known as calculus, and you can’t remove it with a toothbrush, says Harvard Health.

Inside this calculus, bacteria thrive and release acids that cause cavities, break down enamel, and get inside the tooth. They move toward the nerve and jaw bone, which can then lead to infection if untreated. That’s not even the end of the story. From there, bacteria may then travel to other body parts, including the lungs, brain, and heart.

Plaque-related bacteria also has another job to do, irritating and infecting the gums. In turn, this can damage gum tissue, ligaments, and the jaw bone, eventually leading to tooth loss in extreme cases.

Poor dental health is also connected to other health conditions like heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and pneumonia.

Choose the Right Toothbrush

The toothbrush aisle of your local store offers a vast amount of choices, which can get very overwhelming when you don’t know what to look for. They range from simple plastic sticks and bristles to battery-operated versions that spin. But no matter how much money you spend or don’t spend, the fact is, the toothbrush doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you use it.

Even if you invest in a quality brush that does everything for you, you could be missing plaque if you aren’t pairing that with the right brushing technique. Here are some tips to choosing the right brush for you:

  • Choose a toothbrush you like and that you think you will use regularly. The size and shape should fit your mouth so you can reach all areas easily.
  • Choose bristles according to the health of your gums. Go with soft bristles if you have sensitive gums. Use hard bristles if your gums are not sensitive
  • Get a new toothbrush every few months or after you’ve been sick.

Pay Attention to Technique

No matter what kind of brush you choose, engage in daily brushing and flossing after you eat:

  • Brush for two minutes, dividing the time among all areas of your teeth: upper left and right, followed by lower left and right. Do this for 30 seconds per section.
  • Angle the brush, aiming the bristles toward the gums as they meet your teeth. This is a notorious collection area for plaque and calculus. Instead of a 90-degree angle, you want a 45-degree angle.
  • Make circles, rotating the bristles in a gentle sweeping motion to ensure debris is grabbed at the gum line.
  • Use ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t be distracted as you brush, which can take your focus away.
  • Don’t press too hard because you’ll irritate or injure your gums.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue, which has lots of bacteria.
  • Rinse your mouth and brush to wash away toothpaste and food debris.
  • Observe your gums to make sure you got all the food particles. Make sure they are not red or swollen.
  • Eat a balanced diet that limits sugary snacks and beverages.

If you’re still unsure about brushing technique, try it without toothpaste first. Schedule – and attend – cleanings every six months with your dental hygienist in Berkeley. Your dentist should also be popping in at each visit to check that everything looks good and to check for signs of oral cancer.

Schedule Your Six-Month Cleaning at Ashby Dental in Elmwood

Is it time for your six-month cleaning? Don’t neglect these visits because they’re so important in identifying areas of neglect as well as areas of concern that you should be working on the rest of the year. Call us to book a consultation at (510) 549-0133. We are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA, open Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.