5 Cardinal Rules for Brushing Your Teeth

You already know that brushing your teeth is essential—probably the most important part of your daily hygiene routine. Plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) can release acids that damage tooth enamel and cause gum disease. Below you'll find the keys to make sure that your mouth is getting the most benefit.

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove plaque and tartar. You should brush at a 45 degree angle to your gums, gently brushing with short strokes. Be sure to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of teeth. Some recommend that the entire process take about 2 minutes.
  2. Choose a toothpaste containing fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen your tooth enamel to prevent tooth decay. You'll find that many of the natural options do also contain fluoride.
  3. Don't skip brushing your tongue. A build-up of tongue plaque is a leading cause of bad breath. Use a brush or plastic tongue scraper to clean your tongue daily.
  4. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months (more often if the bristles are fraying). Choose a soft brush - harder ones can irritate the gums—in a shape and size that fits your mouth.
  5. Don't rely on your toothbrush alone—it can't go everywhere. Floss and/or use an interdental cleaner in-between teeth to remove bacteria-ridden plaque. You may also want to add an anti-bacterial mouth rinse to your daily brushing routine. And be sure to have a professional cleaning twice a year or more. Speak to your dentist if you have pain, swelling, bleeding, or notice strange changes in your teeth or gums.


Oral Health Topics: "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums". American Dental Association

For the Dental Patient: "Basic Oral Care" Journal of the American Dental Association. July 2000. "