Are You Brushing Your Teeth Wrong?

Oral hygiene, while believed to be as simple as “go the dentist once a year and brush before bed,” is actually pretty technique-heavy. In fact, many people are surprised to find that, for years, they’ve been brushing their teeth incorrectly. Who knew?

If you’re like most people, you probably plop a bit of toothpaste on your three-year-old toothbrush and use a vague, aggressive back-and-forth motion across the surfaces you can reach until you feel like your teeth are clean. But the reality is, this hard, fast routine can actually damage your teeth, wearing away your precious tooth enamel and causing gum sensitivity.

So, how do you brush your teeth the right way?

It’s actually pretty easy. To begin, wet your toothbrush and apply a small amount of toothpaste. Then, place the brush over a single tooth, wiggling it a little bit so that the bristles ease around both sides of the tooth. The more surface area your bristles can reach (this includes in between the teeth and around the gums), the better.

Once you’ve gently scrubbed this tooth, move on to the next, working your way around the entire inside and outside of your tooth line as you go, starting at the back. It’s also important to pay special attention to the millimeter of space under the gum line. Gently massage the gum line, swiping away any food particles that may have gotten stuck up there.

What about flossing?

A little known fact is that it’s actually proper to floss between your teeth before you brush them. Doing so will help loosen any food particles wedged between your teeth, creating easier access for your toothbrush later on. Make it a habit and you’ll definitely notice a difference in the way your teeth look and feel!

Any product (dental floss, flossing sticks, brushes) will work. Just make sure you use them gently, avoiding slicing into your gums in any way. Even twice a week is enough to keep plaque at bay.

Is there anything else I should know?

Soft brushes are best.

It can be tempting to purchase hard-bristle brushes in the hopes that a tougher tool will scrub away more debris. Unfortunately, stiff bristles can actually damage the teeth and gums more than they help! Stick with a soft-bristle brush that bends easily and can access spaces underneath the gums.

Whitening toothpaste is a no go.

Whitening toothpaste is full of aggressive ingredients that can weaken tooth enamel and cause damage down the line. Check with your dentist for alternatives that are safe and tooth-friendly instead.

Never rush it.

Yes, brushing your teeth is a bore. But oral health is the root of all physical health, so don’t brush the idea away (get it?) too frequently. Your goal should be to brush twice a day for two minutes or more each time. Cut it short and you’ll suffer for it.

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Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for posting.

Val P
Val P5 months ago


Peggy B
Peggy B7 months ago


Alexandra Richards
Alexandra Richards7 months ago

Thank you.

Graham P
Graham P8 months ago

Buy a Water pick gets rid of all the hidden bits!

Elizabeth M
Past Member 8 months ago

Thanks for this! Noted.

Angela K
Angela K8 months ago

thanks for sharing

Ann B
Ann B8 months ago

last care 2 article said we floss to often????interesting they contradict their own articles???? my dentist disagreed

Ingrid A
Past Member 8 months ago

thanks very much

Ruth S
Ruth S9 months ago