Are You Brushing Your Teeth Correctly?

Posted by Dr. Roger Pham, DDS on Jun 22 2019, 02:18 AM

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Correctly?

We all learned from an early age that brushing your teeth twice a day is key element in protecting your teeth and gums. Yet while we all learned to brush, not all of us learned how to brush well. Are you confident in your tooth-brushing prowess? See how your skills compare with this handy guide on tooth-brushing techniques.

The Tools

The right toothbrush is essential to proper brushing. Start with a simple soft-bristled toothbrush. Some brushes sport fancy crisscrossed bristles and rubber as well as nylon, but these are often overhyped and add little to your brushing effectiveness. Also to consider, an electric vs. a manual toothbrush.  Manual have long been the standard but today's electric toothbrushes can also make the world of a difference.

You’ll also need a fluoride-based toothpaste. Fluoride cleans the mouth and protects the strength and integrity of your tooth enamel.

The Prep

Start by rinsing your toothbrush briefly in water – this will help the toothpaste spread more easily. Be sure to apply the right amount of toothpaste. For adults, this should be a dab about the size of a pea (not a large glob like you see in commercials). Older children with permanent teeth should get half that, while younger children should use no more than a grain of rice, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.

The Technique

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, with the tips of the bristles angled away from the gum line. Move the brush back and forth in short, slightly circular strokes along the width of each tooth. Be sure to go over every tooth surface, including the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces, and give careful attention to your back molars. When brushing the inside surfaces of your front teeth, hold the toothbrush vertically and brush up and down.

Brushing your teeth should take a minimum of two minutes to ensure that each tooth surface receives adequate cleaning – one minute for the top arch, and one for the bottom. If you find it difficult to keep brushing for the full length, try breaking it up into 30-second stretches until it becomes routine.

The Cleanup

Once you’re done brushing, take the time to spit, swish, and gargle to ensure that all toothpaste and food debris is completely removed. Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly and store it in an open place to dry. Follow up with flossing and a mouthwash gargle, and you’ll be well on your way to healthy, cavity-free teeth.

So how did your brushing technique stack up? Whether you’re a novice or an expert, it’s important to supplement your at-home hygiene with professional cleanings every six months to ensure that your teeth are properly looked after. 

To add a little bit of depth to the daily task of brushing, it is important to note that the tools used can also play a critical part in making life easier in the bathroom. In my opinion, those tools are a critical part of my teeth staying healthy and it is difficult for me to consider achieving the same level of cleanliness without these items. Those items have been with me for more than 6 years now! Those tools have also been specifically selected because I felt like they all played a particular role in keeping my oral hygiene in tip top shape and they've worked really well for me, so I thought I'd share what I use. Look into them let me know in the comments if you have any questions. 

Toothbrush I currently use: Oral-B Genius Pro 8000


  • Small brush head, gives me better access to my posterior teeth
  • Long lasting battery
  • Bluetooth Connection to my phone and it tracks my cleaning daily and how well I've hit all areas of my mouth. It is a plus but I don't really use it much.
  • Pressure Sensor that indicates when I am pressing too hard. Helps prevents gingival recession.
  • Different mode in brushing, in case my gums are sensitive and I want to reduce the vibration.
  • Comes with a Travel Case, so I can take it on the go and prevent damage from floating in my bag or suitcase.

Toothpaste I currently use: Crest Pro-Health HD


  • Separate paste allows for products to not mix and dilute each other
  • Step 1 is the cleaner. It contains the granules to really go after surface stains and remove the plaque that has attached itself to my teeth.
  • Step 2 is the whitening and polisher. It has the hydrogen peroxide along with a fine polishing gel that smoothes the teeth surface to prevent further plaque from rebuilding on top.

Floss I currently use: DenTek Complete Clean Floss Picks


  • Designed specifically for posterior teeth, it allows better and easier reach for the back teeth especially the back of the very last tooth.
  • Easy retrieval between tight contacts
  • Does not break or shred 
  • Comes with the plastic cleaner that is very comfortable and allows to dig big chunks of food out before flipping to flossing.
  • I prefer floss going between the teeth as opposed to the Waterpik because I believe in having the string physically clean between the teeth, especially the contact where the snap occurs,  in order to really remove the caries causing bacteria. Chances are, the pressure form the Waterpik may not be able to push the water into the contact areas. 

Mouthwash I currently use: Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous


  • Alcohol free, no sting after or during swishing
  • Coats teeth with layer that helps reduce plaque build up
  • Helps whiten my teeth
  • Freshens the breath and does not taste bad.

Hope that this help those who don't know what product to choose. These already have proven to me the merit to do what it actually advertised on the packaging. Of course, this list is for adult and if you want a selection for children, please adjust accordingly. Let me know in the comments what you prefer instead and if there are any questions on products. There is definitely lots of choices out there and some products are better than others but do let your hygienist or dentist know if you have any questions. It's our field, let us light the way!

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