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Brush Up on Proper Teeth Cleaning

The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. The following tips will help you maintain a healthy smile:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush and an American Dental Association–accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

  • Hold your toothbrush gently, using only your thumb and forefinger. Hard brushing can cause your gums to recede and damage tooth enamel and root surfaces which might lead to tooth sensitivity.

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums. Pay special attention to the gum line when brushing.

  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (toothwide) strokes.

  • Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

  • Use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.

  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

  • Make sure you spend enough time cleaning your teeth. The combined process of brushing and flossing should take about five minutes. A suggestion: Use an egg timer to keep pace. Electric toothbrushes feature timers to ensure you brush for the right length of time, too.

  • Don’t forget to clean between your teeth with floss or another type of interdental cleaner once a day.

If your dentist has recommended it, use an antimicrobial mouth rinse as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.

“Brushing Your Teeth.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

“What Is the Best Technique for Brushing?” Academy of General Dentistry. Accessed 2013.

“For the Dental Patient: Healthy Mouth, Healthy Patient.” Journal of the American Dental Association. April 2006, vol. 137, p 563. Accessed 2013.

"Brushing Hard Causes Sensitive Teeth." Oral Care Center, WebMd, November 10, 2009 2013.

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