Are you brushing your teeth correctly?

Most people learn to brush their teeth before kindergarten. If you’re still brushing like a kid, however, it may be time to revamp your routine.

Woman brushing her teeth |

Photo credit: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

By the time you reached adulthood, you probably felt like you had a handle on your daily activities. Making it to work on time? Check. Scrambling eggs? Check. Brushing your teeth? Not so fast. As it turns out, a huge number of adults brush their teeth incorrectly and thereby put their mouths at risk for infections, tooth decay and preventable tooth erosion.

We spoke with Dr. Shane Ricci of the Academy of General Dentistry to learn all the ways you’re doing it wrong — and how to correct your toothbrushing technique.


You brush like you’re angry

Some people brush their teeth and gums with vigor, because they think that brushing firmly removes stains and bacteria. But it can actually cause permanent gum recession. Instead, Ricci states that people need to brush delicately to remove plaque without damaging the teeth and gums.

Pro fix: Only use soft brushes and be gentle. If your bristles bend when you brush, you’re pressing too hard.


You don’t brush with the proper angle

It’s pretty normal to hold your toothbrush perpendicular to your teeth, but that’s a big no-no. You’re more likely to damage your gums if you saw back and forth with a toothbrush angled 90 degrees from your gum line.

Pro fix: “Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle away from the gum line,” says Ricci. Then, use a gentle circular motion to avoid damaging the gums.


You brush like you’re running late

Ricci reports that most people don’t spend nearly enough time brushing their teeth each day. “Most of us brush less than one minute at a time, which doesn’t effectively remove cavity-causing bacteria,” he says.

Pro fix: Brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Set an egg timer to make sure you’re brushing long enough.


You brush like you’re sawing wood

“Brushing in a sawing, back-and-forth motion can cause gums to recede and possibly even damage tooth structure,” says Ricci. Your teeth and gums are delicate and living structures, not hearty pieces of oak.

Pro fix: Use a gentle and circular motion with your brush. Start at the gum line and move on to the teeth.


You brush with bacteria

We see that old toothbrush in your drawer, looking like it’s in serious need of a split-end treatment. According to Ricci, “old toothbrushes are ineffective, but they also harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections like gingivitis and gum disease.” Your nasty old toothbrush is like a disease magnet.

Pro fix: Regularly replace your brush. Swap out your brush before the bristles look splayed and frayed. Ricci suggests changing them out every three to four months and after you’ve been sick.

Looking for a new toothbrush to help you on your quest for sparkly and healthy teeth? Check out the ARM & HAMMER™ Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ for a toothbrush that will help you put Ricci’s pointers into practice.

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