Toothbrush? Check. Toothpaste? Check. Seems straightforward, but that may not be enough to ensure dental health success.
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH
Ask a dozen people whether they know how to brush their teeth, and if they’re over age 2, odds are they’ll say, “Of course.” They might even be offended that you questioned their ability. After all, how hard can using a toothbrush and toothpaste be?
Turns out it’s a bit more complicated than many people think.
Teeth Brushing Basics: What You Need to Know Now
Good oral hygiene is crucial to keeping a healthy smile and mouth. The secret is making sure you’re brushing correctly.
- Put in the time. “Patients generally think they’re brushing longer than they actually are,” says Robert Roesch, DDS, a spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry. “Most people spend less than a minute. Teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least two minutes.”
- Choose your toothbrush carefully. Toothbrushes are not one-size-fits-all. Make sure it’s not too big and can get to all parts of your mouth. Soft bristles are important for dental health.
Manual and electric toothbrushes can both work well, says Shehzad Sheikh, DMD, a dentist at Dominion Dental Care in Sterling, Va. However, he prefers electric toothbrushes for one simple reason – not because electric toothbrushes do a better job of cleaning but because they have timers. “The timers allow the user to brush without thinking about how long they are brushing,” he says. “At the end of two minutes the toothbrush just stops vibrating or rotating.”
- Pick a double-duty toothpaste. Look for toothpaste with fluoride to help make teeth stronger and keep decay at bay.