5 tips for brushing your teeth correctly

The correct brushing of teeth will not only ensure healthy teeth and a brighter smile but also overall improved health. Effective brushing removes plaque and gets rid of disease causing bacteria from teeth; thereby preventing cavities and gum diseases which if not treated will lead to other health complications.

Brushing is not a simple one minute exercise as most people perceive it. In fact, when done properly, it lasts for a minimum of three minutes. If you would like to know more on how to correctly clean your teeth, then consider the following tips:


Start by Flossing

It is unfortunate that most people do not floss not knowing that it forms approximately 60 per cent of the teeth cleaning process. Brushing only takes care of the remaining 40 per cent.

Plaque that has accumulated between teeth and food debris can only be removed by flossing. If with dental braces, Dental picks can be used to remove the floss between teeth and should be done gently so as not to irritate gums. After flossing, swish water around your mouth, spit out in the sink then use the right tooth brush and paste for brushing.



Use the Right Tooth Brush

The correct tooth brush should have short bristles that can efficiently and easily disrupt plaque and debris from teeth when quick and short up-down movements are made while brushing. Longer bristles need longer movements which are not appropriate in the small restricted mouth space
The right tooth brush should:

  • Effectively remove food debris and plaque from teeth without eroding tooth enamel or irritating gums
  • Fit well in your hands
  • Have a small head to easily access and clean the back teeth

It is also important to note that, manual toothbrushes can be as good as electric toothbrushes so long as you take your time brushing (approximately 3 minutes) and employ the right brushing technique.

Your toothbrush should be replaced regularly i.e. after around 3 months since at this time the bristles would have worn out and lost their flexibility. Too old toothbrushes are also not gentle on gums and harbour a lot of bacteria.


Use Of Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is the best for removing plaque and strengthening enamel. When brushing, care should be taken not to ingest the paste. Too much chloride ingestion can cause serious health issues; a reason why it should not be used by children not over 3 years.

Fluoride toothpaste solves a wide variety of dental problems including diseases e.g. Gingivitis. It is also recommended for sensitive teeth and gums and stained teeth. Since they are available in a wide range of variety, it is important to seek advice or recommendation from your dentist about the one that will work best for you.


Employing Teeth Brushing Technique

Any brushing technique requires only a little amount of toothpaste (pea size amount). A lot of paste is not advised because;

  • It causes over-sussing which will make you spit and finish brushing early
  • It can be ingested accidentally

Teeth should not be brushed across but in circular motion. However, short vertical movements can also be incorporated with the bristles set at 45 degrees at the gum line. If pain is experienced while brushing, be gentler with the vertical or circular motions and employ the use of special tooth paste formulated for sensitive teeth.

Brushing should be at least for 3 minutes while paying attention to hard to reach areas. you can start by cleaning the outside of a few teeth on the lower right then the outside of those on the lower left moving up to the outside of the upper left then outside upper right. Continue with the same way to the inside of the upper right followed by that of the upper left then move down to the lower left and finally the insides of the lower right teeth. This type of cleaning divides the mouth into a quadrant with bottom right; bottom left; top left and top right sides where approximately 30 seconds is spent on cleaning each quadrant.

When brushing molars, the brush should be positioned in such a way that it is perpendicular to the lips. This will allow the bristles to rest on the surface of the bottom molars and with the in-out brush motion; they should be clean as you move from back to front teeth. The same process should be repeated on the other side of the mouth and the brush flipped over to clean the top molars.

Fully accessing the outside of the top molars can sometimes be tricky. To do this, just swing or move the lower jaw to the side you are cleaning to allow more space for several up and down brush movements.

After brushing the outer and top teeth surfaces, do not forget to brush the inner teeth surfaces. Just hold the brush in such a way that its head points to the teeth gum line then gently brush each tooth. Also, remember to open your mouth wide enough so as to allow the bristles to reach the edge of the gums at the correct vertical angle.

Brushing will not be complete without brushing your tongue. When you are done brushing your teeth, shift your attention to the tongue and brush it gently to get rid of bacteria and bad breath.

If the whole brushing process becomes boring, involve yourself by watching television or listening to music while brushing.


Brush Cleaning and Mouth Rinsing

After brushing, sip water from a disposable cup and swish then spit in the sink. Some people argue that mouth rinsing should not be done immediately after brushing as it might reduce the efficacy of fluoride treatment. However, research and studies show that immediate mouth rinsing after brushing does not have any negative effect on the effectiveness of fluoride in tooth paste.

Immediate rinsing also ensures that no fluoride is ingested and no paste taste is left in the mouth. Rinse your toothbrush by holding it under running water for just a few seconds to completely wash away any remaining paste and to get rid of bacteria (so as there is no bacteria re-introduced into the mouth the next time you brush). Since bacteria can grow, your tooth brush should be placed where it will easily and quickly dry up.

Although optional, it is important to use a fluoride mouth wash after brushing. Just take a small sip and swish in your mouth for approximately thirty seconds then spit out. Care should be taken not to swallow the mouthwash.

Finally rinse your mouth with a lot of water. Saltwater can be used at this stage of rinsing to kill any remaining bacteria. However, it should be used occasionally as its acidic and can corrode teeth.