Brushing: Up and Down or Round and Round?

Many people have a lot to learn when it comes to the correct method of brushing teeth. Avoiding over brushing through scrubbing from side to side is key, and it is important to employ the right tools and techniques to keep your teeth in great shape.

First thing’s first: don’t skimp on the time! Brushing your teeth shouldn’t take any less than a full two minutes. You may think a rush job is good enough but what you are looking for is a good, thorough clean. You will also do well to check the quality of the brush you are using and make sure you get yourself a new brush as soon as your current one shows wear (usually every couple of months). In terms of the type of brush you use, most dental professionals will agree that a soft bristled brush is the best option to remove debris and plaque and that a small-headed brush is really good for getting into those hard to reach places. A battery operated brush can do the trick just as well, as long as you use the right level of bristles and head size, and know all the areas you need to pay attention to.

The first thing you want to do when you come to clean your teeth is to clean the outside surface of your upper teeth, followed by the outside surface of your lower teeth. To do this, tilt your brush at an angle of about 45 degrees and use short, gentle up-and-down strokes. The problem with more aggressive brushing strokes or ‘scrubbing’ from side to side is that the gumline can easily become damaged and lead to the exposure of sensitive roots. You also want to avoid wearing away the enamel on the teeth and pushing back the gums, which can also be adverse effects of scrubbing your teeth from side to side.

Next, and using this same gentle up-and-down brush stroke, pay attention to cleaning the inside surface of your upper and lower teeth. The gums around this area tend to get forgotten because they are the parts of the teeth and mouth we don’t see. You are aiming to dislodge any matter which might begin to cause decay around the teeth and gums, and become problematic later on.

Cleaning the tops of the teeth, where you chew, is also essential. You can afford to be more rigorous when you brush this surface area, since you are away from the sensitive gum line. Be sure to give the tongue a good going over during your brushing session, too. This will ensure your breath stays fresher for longer and that you remove any debris that you’ve dislodged from your teeth. Another point to keep in mind is that experts suggest most of us always follow the same route when brushing our teeth, so why not mix it up? Try starting in a different place in your mouth each time you brush to avoid boredom and keep yourself focussed on the task.

The key to an effective tooth-brushing session is technique. It’s not how hard you scrub, but time and technique that counts!