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How To Brush

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What Is the Right Way to Brush?

Proper brushing takes at least two minutes. Most adults do not come close to brushing that long. To get a feel for the time involved, try using a stopwatch. To properly brush your teeth, use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gumline, hard-to-reach back teeth, and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration. Concentrate on thoroughly cleaning each section as follows:

  • Clean the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
  • Clean the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
  • Clean the chewing surfaces
  • For fresher breath, be sure to brush your tongue, too.


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Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and roll the bristles away from the gumline.


Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and forth strokes.


Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.

What type of toothbrush should I use?

Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Small-headed brushes are also preferable, since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth. For many, a powered toothbrush is a good alternative. It can do a better job of cleaning teeth, particularly for those who have difficulty brushing or who have limited manual dexterity.

How important is the toothpaste I use?

It is important that you use toothpaste that is right for you. Today there is a wide variety of toothpaste designed for many conditions, including cavities, gingivitis, tartar, stained teeth and sensitivity. Ask your dental professional which toothpaste is right for you.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you have had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.