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How to properly brush your teeth

Updated on September 30, 2010

Who would have thought?

No, I’m not a smarty pants, but I did think that there was one thing in this life that I did right.  I THOUGHT I knew how to brush my teeth.  That is until my eldest daughter took me by the hand into the bathroom and showed me step by step what I was missing.

Of course I had a hard time believing her, after all wasn’t it my brother who accused me of taking my teeth out and brushing them one by one as a youngster?  He’d knock on the bathroom door (yes OMG! We only had 1 bathroom, the shame!) ask me what I was doing in there so long.  Well I was brushing my teeth for gosh sakes.

So after the instruction from my daughter I discovered that there was only 1 thing I had been doing right all of these years.  Holding the tooth brush at the proper angle.  Yep, that’s it.  All these years I have been doing it WRONG.  How do I know this?  Because they really felt CLEAN, and the clean lasted for several hours afterwards.  Not just my breath mind you, but the surfaces of my teeth felt good.  No more gunk for me.

I really did brush a LOT

Now just so you understand I felt like I was doing a good job all of these years, brushing after meals, when I get up in the morning when I go to bed at night.  It was nothing for me to brush my teeth 4 or 5 times a day, yet soon after they’d feel icky. 

You’re probably wondering what makes my daughter qualified to tell me how to brush my teeth.  She has recently entered the Dental Assistant program at Everest Institute not too far away.  She is attempting to get the highest grades possible so she can wear the ‘black’ uniform and be recognized for her hard work by her other classmates.  In this, she is doing an excellent job!

Come on You can do it!!

So now we are going to take you by the hand into the bathroom and instruct you on proper brushing techniques.  Go ahead, give it a try what’s it gonna hurt?  The worst that could happen is you will leave the bathroom with the cleanest mouth possible!

What you will need for the absolute proper brushing:

18 inches of Dental floss - Any kind you wish, they even make shred proof now!  This is a MUST!
1 Soft bristle tooth brush - light weight one that fits comfortably in your hand.
Fluoride Toothpaste - Not much, just a dab will do ya!
Mouthwash - Morning: Any kind will do.  Nighttime - Listerine - Total Care

At least 18 inches of Floss!

First steps

1.  Get yourself about 18 inches of Dental floss wind it around your fingers, until you have about a 2 inch space to work with.  For those that have Arthritis or Carpel Tunnel it is fine to use a Floss holder.  There are various kinds available.  The little toothpick kinds are not proper but will do in a pinch. 

For those who have Bridges use bridge threader.  For those who have crowns it will be addressed just after ‘regular’ flossing.

So important to that CLEAN feeling!

2.  This is one of the keys to proper brushing.  Flossing is to be done FIRST (here is what she says to do)

The best place to begin is at the farthest side of the tooth on the last molar closest to the back of the mouth, either top or bottom, left or right side is of no concern, working your way around.

Pull floss down, then making a ‘C’ shape around the left side of the tooth, pull up while making the ‘C’ shape.  Repeat in same place making the ‘C’ shape around the right side of tooth.  Work your way around, flossing both sides of the tooth being flossed (in between the teeth).

You should go down into the gum slightly.  This should not be painful, some small amount of bleeding may occur at first, until your gums get used to this activity.  If bleeding is excessive then you may want to consult your Dentist.

For Crowns pull down and pull out floss, do not pull up.

Flossing should be done at the very least once per day.

Once all teeth have been thoroughly Flossed properly, brushing may commence!

Soft works best

3. Brushing - A soft toothbrush cleans the best, it is the bristles that clean not the toothpaste. A hard bristle brush is abrasive and can damage the tooth enamel.

The amount of toothpaste used should depend on the mouth size, no more than half the toothbrush should have toothpaste on it.

Holding the brush at a 45 degree angle against the teeth and gums begin brushing in the same place you started flossing. Do not brush ‘up and down’ this can be abrasive on the tooth enamel. Side to side/back and forth motions work best. Circles are also effective and work well. Work around your mouth in the same way you flossed. Making sure to get the ‘insides’ or back of your teeth of your teeth.

No need to push hard, keep that toothbrush moving, it WILL clean those teeth!

Brush for two minutes, inside, outside and biting surface of the teeth. Then brush your tongue, roof of mouth and insides of cheeks. Rinse with water.

Brushing should not be painful. If after a couple of times trying this and there is excessive pain or bleeding you should consult your Dentist.

Brushing should be done at least 2 times per day or after eating.


4.  Mouthwash - If this is in the morning, using a regular mouthwash is fine.  Before bedtime use the Listerine Total Care mouthwash, it is recommended by the ADA (American Dental Association) the reason to do this at nighttime, to make it more effective, you are NOT supposed to eat or drink for 30 minutes after use.

Replace that Toothbrush!

Replace your toothbrush approximately every 3 months. 

Thi Old Dog learned some new tricks!

Truly, I was skeptical at first.  I gave it a try, thinking that as a Mom of course I knew better.  I was WRONG!  She was right, she taught this ‘Old Dog’ some new tricks. 

Do this until your next Dental check up and you will certainly IMPRESS that Dentist or Hygienist!

Way to go Catherine!!  She’s having so much fun in school she is thinking that after she graduates, she may go on to further her education beyond this.


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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! Yep, they say softer is better! Just take your time brushing, an extra minute isn't gonna make or break your day!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • kimballtrombone profile image

      kimballtrombone 7 years ago

      Nice hub. I've noticed lately that, when I get my "free" toothbrush after a cleaning, dentists only seem to carry soft toothbrushes.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Oh Goody!! They can all split the pennies I have in my piggy bank amongst themselves!! My kids will be disappointed mind you because that was their inheritance!

      Oh well such is life!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      susie - want you to be aware. Just heard that the A.D.A. - American Dental Association plans on instituting a suit against you. They claim that this hub will influence its readers to such an extent that it is dangerous to the health of dentists. Financial health, that is. Fewer cavities to fill or teeth to pull will result in their subsequent loss of income. Just wanted you to know.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Awww, Dave... How funny. Thanks for stopping by and commenting... even if you don't need what I am offering!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Sweetsusieg: Thanks for the lesson! Fortunately all I have to do is pull out my dentures, plop them into some fizz, wait over night a voila they're clean again and ready to go.