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What are the Best Tips for Tooth Brushing?

Alex Tree
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many dentists frequently suggest using a soft-bristled brush and tooth brushing in gentle, circular motions. Nevertheless, a lot of people simply do not follow that advice and need the occasional reminder. On top of that, most people can benefit from tooth brushing longer than they do now, as well as brushing their tongue. Having healthy gums and white teeth depends heavily on the brushing technique, the brush, and how much time is spent brushing. Still, regular dental checkups are usually recommended for a professional cleaning and advice, even if all tips are strictly followed.

Tooth brushes are generally sold labeled as soft, medium, or hard, which indicates how stiff the bristles of each brush are. Each type is capable of effectively removing plaque, but medium and hard brushes can cause irreversible damage to the enamel of the teeth. Some people purchase tooth brushes with stiffer bristles to remove more plaque and give themselves a more thorough cleaning, but tooth brushing does not work this way. Most dentists recommend using a soft-bristled brush because it is less likely to damage the teeth and mouth but can remove just as much plaque. These brushes are usually labeled soft, and like any tooth brush, should be replaced every three to four months or sooner if they show obvious signs of wear.

A proper tooth brushing technique can mean the difference between no cavities and many or healthy gums and diseased gums. Even using a soft-bristled brush, it is possible to brush too harshly and damage the teeth rather than thoroughly clean them. When tooth brushing, a person should use gentle strokes in a circular motion. Brushing up and down or side to side is typically discouraged by dentists because, like harsh brushing, it can eventually damage the teeth and irritate the gums.

Some people think tooth brushing is just that: brushing the teeth. Proper oral hygiene, however, means brushing the gums and tongue too. The tongue can be a source of bad breath, but it is quickly cleaned with gentle strokes of a soft-bristled brush. Many people do not experience bad breath even if they neglect their tongue, but dental associations, such as the American Dental Association, consider tongue brushing part of good oral hygiene.

Most dentists recommend brushing the teeth for at least two minutes. Nevertheless, studies repeatedly show that many adults and children do not follow this guideline. For better oral hygiene, a person may want to consider doing something that takes him around two minutes to complete while brushing his teeth, like humming a favorite song or counting to a certain number.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGEEK contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon136763 — On Dec 24, 2010

Any effort to improve the terribly poor success rate of conscientious brushing must recognize the need to explain why we should brush. Simply as a compensation for the lack of stimulation we no longer receive when chewing a modern diet. If we fail to imitate the chewing motion, Mother Nature will be horribly cruel.

Alex Tree

Alex Tree

Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGEEK contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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