A How-To Guide To Brushing Your Teeth

If a patient cannot clean his teeth, no dentist can do it for him.
— Martin H. Fischer

How to Brush Yo' Teeth.

Seeing as our practice is brush., it seems most appropriate for the first blog post to center on our namesake.

First things first, let’s talk about the tools of the trade.

In this day and age where all of our daily gadgets are super high tech and efficient, it absolutely amazes me that many of my patients are still regularly using a manual toothbrush (aka no rotating/vibrating bristles). Let me set the record straight once and for all. There is absolutely no way that manual brushing can even come close to the kind of clean you can get with an electrically powered appliance.

Powered toothbrushes literally make thousands more strokes than you could manually so obviously you’ll get more plaque removal and a healthier mouth! Not to mention, the tendency seems to be with manual brushes to scrub as hard as possible to get a good clean. This is not only unnecessary but it can also lead to enamel abrasion! In other words, when you brush too hard you’re chipping away at the protective surface of your tooth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and gum line recession.

Enamel abrasion from aggressive tooth brushing.

Enamel abrasion from aggressive tooth brushing.


And as a final hit home,

  • Electric toothbrushes do a better job at preventing staining (hi coffee and wine drinkers of the world! I’m talking to you here!)

  • Most have built-in timers that help you ensure you brush for the full recommended two minutes.

  • They’re more effective at reaching tough-to-reach areas of your mouth because they're easy to hold and maneuver.

Bottom line: Whether you get the best of the best (think: Sonicare Diamond Clean) or you invest in something more cost effective (hint: go for prior models on Amazon), electric toothbrushes when used properly and consistently are more effective for improving oral health than manual toothbrushes!

Now let’s get to technique. To really get the most out of your brushing routine, knowing the proper way to do so will make a huge difference. Out of habit, many people will attempt to use the same motions with an electric toothbrush as they did with manual (*ahem* vigorously scrubbing). This is not necessary and could also be more detrimental to your enamel! Since the brushing motion is done entirely by the toothbrush, all you have to do is position the toothbrush head so the bristles reach the right areas and then rock around the teeth for 5-10 seconds before moving on.

Here's the breakdown: 

  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line, where the gums and teeth meet.

  • Gently and lightly pull the brush along the gum line, allowing the vibrations to clean the area thoroughly. Again, there’s no need to vigorously brush back and forth as you would with a manual toothbrush.

  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Word to the wise: Don’t turn the brush on until it’s inside your mouth – otherwise, you could shoot that pea-sized dab of toothpaste across the bathroom!

  • Use the timer. Most electric toothbrushes have built-in two-minute timers. Some beep throughout the two minutes so you can spend an equal amount of time brushing each quadrant in your mouth.

As a general rule of thumb, start by cleaning the outside of all your teeth first, then move on to the side of your teeth that face your tongue, and lastly get the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. 


And that's all folks! Hope you learned something useful and as always, we'd love to see you in our office! 

Sara Mahmood, DDS MSHM