Brushing Our Teeth: How to Do it Properly

tooth brush

Brushing our teeth correctly is a skill; like learning how to paint or exercise. When done expertly the results are very rewarding. If done incorrectly the effects can be detrimental. So we will review what we need and the proper technique in using them.

How To Select A Toothbrush


Small-headed, soft bristle brushes are best. Small heads allow one to reach the back molars. If the brush is too large we miss our most posterior teeth. Soft bristles that bend are essential so that we don’t abraid the enamel during the brushing experience. The soft bristles are important when we discuss the proper technique particularly when we brush where the gum meets the tooth.


Electric brushes are best. There are two types, rotary and sonic. The rotary is good if getting your teeth a bit whiter is a prime concern. The sonic is more gentle and more effective in removing plaque from the gum line. In general, these brushes have been shown to be 8-10 times more gentle than hand brushing and 10-12 times more effective in removing plaque. We like them because we want our patients to brush for two minutes/brushing (30 seconds/quadrant). These brushes beep every thirty seconds and shut off after two minutes. We found that when brushing by hand 30 seconds seems like two minutes.


How To Select Toothpaste


There are two keys to having the best toothpaste. First, it must contain fluoride. Fluoride is essential in combining with the enamel (outer covering of our teeth) to make it harder and more resistant to decay. Second the softer, the less erosive the toothpaste the better. 

Among our favorites are Sensodyne (repair), Colgate (total), and Crest (sensitive)

We do not like abrasive toothpaste that promises to whiten. They are ineffective and much too coarse.


Floss & Water-Piks


The most effective thing to use in addition to the toothbrush is floss. It also happens to be the least expensive item to compliment your oral care. Up until age 19 most decay occurs on the tops of our teeth, in the crevices. After 19 we start to get cavities in between our teeth, along the sides as the tooth approaches the gum line. We call this smooth surface caries. The best way to remove plaque and food debris is with floss. We prefer that a person floss once a day, preferably at night. Our science has found that if we disturb the colonies of bacteria that are working on sugary food debris in between our teeth, the incidence of decay and periodontal disease is greatly reduced.


The water-pik is another device that we like, although it is not essential. It should be used on the “low” setting with the stream of water going horizontally to the long axis of the tooth. It does not take the place of flossing.

Best Tooth Brushing Techniques


1. Brushing with a handheld brush

  1. Hold bristles at a 45-degree angle to the tooth, place them just 1mm onto gum at the start
  2. The bristles face up in the upper jaw and down in the lower jaw
  3. We want to use LIGHT pressure (5grams) 
  4. Use a gentle circular motion, massage, don’t scrub, do not brush with a side to side motion
  5. Hold the brush vertically to do the inside of your teeth, especially in the lower anterior (front) area
  6. Brush the outside, the inside, and the top
  7. Brush one tooth at a time, start at the back, and move forward
  8. Use a small amount of toothpaste (pea size) and be sure to rinse and spit out excess toothpaste

2. Electric toothbrushing 

  1. Place bristle at a 45-degree angle to the tooth
  2. Keep the power on low, gentle, or sensitive
  3. Allow toothbrush to do the work for you;  gently move the toothbrush around brushing
  4. Outside, inside, and top. Use a circular motion
  5. Rinse and spit out excess toothpaste, do not swallow toothpaste

Schedule an Appointment with 172 NYC Dental

So proper technique is essential in maintaining good oral hygiene. Too much of a good thing can lead to enamel wear or gum recession. If you have any concerns about the condition of your teeth or gums please contact 172NYC Dental at 646-921-5541 for a complimentary consultation. We are here to evaluate, teach and preempt any serious dental disease. We are here to form long-lasting relationships with you based on clinical excellence and trust. 


About Dr. Benjamin Ahn

Meet Dr. Benjamin Ahn, a top-rated general, and cosmetic dentist and one of the best Invisalign dentist practicing at 209 NYC Dental, a multi-specialty dental practice in Midtown East Manhattan.

Questions? Contact us online or give us a call at 646-921-5541 today!
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