How To: Brush Your Teeth Properly

Brushing Your Teeth... There Really Is a Right Way

Believe it or not, there is a proper way to brush your teeth...

And it’s not scrubbing as hard as you can with the stiffest brush you can find.

Did you know brushing the wrong way can be downright harmful?

You could be damaging your teeth or leaving behind bacteria.

Learn the proper way to clean those pearly whites so you don't risk ruining your smile.


Article Table of Contents:

What Kind of Toothbrush Is Best?

One of the most common questions patients ask is: “Should I use a manual or electric toothbrush?”

The answer? Whichever one you prefer.

It is important to replace your toothbrush - whether manual or electric - every 3 to 4 months.

Both manual and electric toothbrushes have their share of pros and cons.

Let's take a look...

Manual toothbrushes.

If you are going to use a manual toothbrush, it is important you buy a brush with the softest bristles you can find.

Stiff bristles can cause damage over time, wearing away tooth structure and leading to sensitive and weakened teeth.

The ADA provides a list of manual toothbrushes that have earned its official endorsement as being safe and effective to use.

Of course, there is a certain amount of effort that needs to be put into manual brushing, since you have to create the circular motions yourself. 

Yes, there is a correct way to brush.Couple brushing teeth together


Electric Toothbrushes.

Some electric toothbrushes, because of the battery pack in them, are clunky and bulky.

Of course, there are sleeker options available in the market as well.

It is all about finding what is comfortable for you to hold, and how much counter space you have in the your bathroom.

You are going to need to charge the toothbrush, which can be a con to those who are a little lax in charging, or who have limited to no counter space in the bathroom.

However, if you suffer from arthritis, using an electric toothbrush is a smarter option. 

To find more information on a few of the best electric toothbrushes, click here.

What's The Proper Way To Use A Toothbrush?

No matter what type of toothbrush you use, it is important you brush properly.

For both electric and manual toothbrushes, the motto is the same: two minutes, two times a day.

If you have an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

Most will tell you not to scrub with the brush, but instead hold it in place and allow it to do all the work, moving from tooth to tooth.

 If you use a manual toothbrush, however, there is a certain way to brush that will get your teeth the cleanest and reduce causing damage.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. You’re going to clean a small area at a time, two to three teeth.
  2. Gently move the bristles under the gum line in tiny strokes. You are trying to free up the plaque that is just below the gums.
  3. With a rolling movement, brush from your gum line to the chewing surface of your teeth.
    • Think of it like a paintbrush, taking the plaque away from the gums to the edge of the teeth.
  4. Continue around the back and front of all teeth. To get behind your front teeth, turn your brush vertically and use short strokes, from the gums to the edges of the teeth.
  5. Scrub the chewing surfaces of all teeth.

*The entire process should take about two minutes.

Two important things to keep in mind when it comes to brushing your teeth:

  1. You should be brushing at least twice a day.
  2. If you have consumed something very acidic (like coffee or orange juice), wait 30 minutes before brushing.

Is Flossing Really That Important?

Brushing will remove plaque from the surface of your teeth, but it does not reach the area in between teeth where cavities frequently occur.

If you don’t floss, you could develop with cavities, or even something as extreme as bone loss between your teeth - a condition called periodontitis.Family Dentist Near Me


Proper flossing can be done using standard string floss (like the picture above) or floss picks.

The key is to do it consistently and properly.

Again, think about what you are trying to accomplish: removing plaque from in between your teeth.

As you are flossing, hold the floss so it wraps around the sides of your tooth like the letter C, then move it up and down to remove any gunk.

The ADA published a great guide with illustrations to show you the proper how-to.

Waterpiks: Another Flossing-Esque Technique

A Waterpik is another way to clean between your teeth.Woman using a Waterpik


A Waterpik sprays a jet of water that you can use to clean out food debris and plaque from around your teeth.

They also help reduce bacteria levels.

This can help improve your oral health, as bacteria is associated with gum problems and cavities.

Don’t Forget the Dentist!

Proper brushing and flossing only does go so far though...

At Hylan Dental Care, we highly recommended a minimum of two visits a year.

If you live in the greater Cleveland area, get your two appointments set and schedule a visit with us today by clicking the button below!

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