Child, dad and brushing teeth in a family home bathroom.

Mastering the Art of Toothbrushing: Techniques for a Healthier Smile

Maintaining excellent oral health goes beyond regular toothbrushing; it also involves using proper tooth brushing techniques to prevent dental issues like cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. 

If you want to enhance your tooth brushing skills, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll guide you through selecting the ideal toothbrush and toothpaste, demonstrating the proper tooth brushing technique, and providing additional tips to ensure you achieve the best possible oral health. 

How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

Proper tooth brushing is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums throughout your lifetime, as they are continuously exposed to oral bacteria, digestive enzymes, and corrosive food agents. 

To brush your teeth correctly, follow these steps:

A Breakdown of The Proper Tooth Brushing Technique


Prepare your Toothbrush

Before applying toothpaste to your toothbrush, wet the bristles with water to ensure that the toothpaste spreads easily. Afterward, apply a thin strip of toothpaste onto the bristles. Remember, a small amount of toothpaste is sufficient to clean your teeth effectively.

Brush the Front Surfaces of Your Teeth 

Begin by placing the bristles of your toothbrush on the upper molars of one side of your mouth, and position the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line.

To effectively remove plaque and food particles, use gentle circular motions to brush the outer surfaces of your molars and premolars for at least 20 seconds. After that, roll the brush away from the gum line so that the bristles can sweep across the surface of your teeth.

 Continue brushing in a circular motion and incorporate short up-and-down strokes to dislodge plaque and debris as you move the toothbrush to clean the outer surfaces of the front teeth. 

When you finish brushing the upper molars on the opposite side of your mouth, repeat the process, starting with the lower molars. Next, gently clean the outer surfaces of your lower front teeth and finish with the lower molars on the other  side of your mouth.  

Brush the Back Surfaces of Your Teeth

For optimal results, use the same brushing technique to clean the inside surfaces of your molars and premolars as you did on the outside surfaces, and be sure to brush for at least 20 seconds.

To clean the back surfaces of your upper and lower front teeth, tilt your toothbrush vertically, direct the bristles toward the gumline, and use gentle up-and-down brushing strokes.  Repeat this motion three to five times to remove plaque and food residue. 

Brush the Chewing Surfaces of Your Teeth

Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to effectively clean your molars and premolars’ chewing surfaces. Keep in mind that the grooves on these surfaces tend to accumulate plaque and food residue. Therefore, brushing for at least 20 seconds is recommended to achieve a thorough cleaning.

Brush the Tongue and the Insides of the Cheeks

Brushing your tongue, inner cheeks, and the roof of your mouth removes oral bacteria and helps with bad breath prevention. Use sweeping back-and-forth motions to clean your tongue and gentle circular motions to clean your inner cheeks and the roof of your mouth.

Should I Wrap Up With a Rinse?

After spitting out the toothbrush foam, do not rinse your mouth with water. It is recommended to allow the toothpaste residue to maintain contact with your teeth for as long as possible. This means that you will continue to get the benefits of important minerals such as fluoride long after you brush. 

Tips for Toothbrushing to Avoid Damaging Your Teeth and Gums

Using the wrong brushing technique can cause more harm than good to your teeth and gums. To avoid any potential damage, follow these helpful tips when brushing.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: A toothbrush with soft bristles is not only gentle on your gums and teeth but also effectively removes plaque
  • Brush gently: it’s best to apply gentle pressure while brushing to prevent any harm to your teeth and gums,
  • Brush at a 45-degree angle: Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line enables you to clean both your teeth and gums effectively
  • Use circular brushing motions:  it’s best to use circular brushing motions instead of back-and-forth scrubbing motions to avoid damaging the enamel,
  • Follow the 2-2 rule: To ensure a thorough clean, brush your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes. 

Brushing Mistakes to Avoid

To get the most out of your cleaning routine, be sure to avoid the following brushing mistakes: 

  • Applying too much pressure: Applying too much pressure when brushing can damage your teeth and gums. Brush gently and let your toothbrush do the heavy lifting.
  • Using a hard-bristled brush: A hard-bristled brush can wound your gums and abrade the enamel over time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth effectively.
  • Brushing too often: Stick to brushing your teeth twice a day, as brushing too often can weaken the enamel and damage your gums.
  • Not replacing your toothbrush: Toothbrush bristles become frayed and less effective over time. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months for the best results.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Selecting the right toothbrush and toothpaste is crucial for maintaining optimal dental hygiene. Consider these tips to help you choose the best toothbrush and toothpaste for your needs.

Toothbrush Selection Tips 


Bristle Type

When selecting a toothbrush, it’s crucial to consider the type and design of bristles as they play a vital role in maintaining dental health. Toothbrush bristles can be made from various materials, including polyester, nylon, and natural fibers such as boar or horse hair. 

Each bristle type is tailored to serve a specific purpose, with nylon bristles being particularly gentle on the gums and teeth while remaining effective at removing plaque.

Bristle Texture

Bristle textures can be classified into three categories: soft, medium, and hard. Soft bristles are recommended for plaque removal and tartar prevention, as they are gentle on the teeth and gums. 

Although medium bristles may be more effective at removing plaque, they can wear down enamel and irritate gums. Hard bristles should be avoided as they are excessively abrasive and can cause severe damage to your teeth and gums.

Head Size

The size of the toothbrush head plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of your teeth cleaning routine, although each size presents unique benefits and drawbacks. 

A larger head, for example, can effectively clean hard-to-reach areas, but it may cause discomfort if you have a small mouth. Conversely, if you have gaps between your teeth, a smaller head may be more effective at cleaning between them.

However, a smaller head may be less effective at cleaning hard-to-reach areas, resulting in a tradeoff between comfort and thoroughness.


When choosing a toothbrush, consider handle length, shape, and texture, as they affect how effectively you can maneuver it. A textured grip can make it easier to hold, while an angled and contoured handle can enhance your grip and make brushing more enjoyable.

Toothpaste Selection Tips



Fluoride, a mineral that strengthens enamel and prevents cavities, is typically included in toothpaste at varying levels depending on the brand. The recommended fluoride concentration for toothpaste ranges from 1000 to 1500 parts per million. You should consult your dentist to ensure you choose a toothpaste with the ideal fluoride levels.

Desensitizing Properties

If you have sensitive teeth, consider using toothpaste with desensitizing properties. Toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth typically contains ingredients such as potassium nitrate and strontium chloride that can help soothe the nerves in your teeth and reduce discomfort. 

Nonetheless, it is essential to note that tooth sensitivity can often be an indicator of underlying dental issues, such as tooth decay or gum disease. Therefore, it is recommended to visit a dentist for proper examination to determine the cause of the sensitivity.

Tartar Control

Tartar develops when plaque accumulates on teeth and calcifies, leading to tooth discoloration and gum disease. Tartar control toothpaste containing zinc nitrate and pyrophosphates can help combat tartar buildup, but it’s worth noting that professional dental cleanings are more effective in preventing and removing tartar.

Anti-gingivitis Properties

Toothpaste containing anti-gingivitis properties is an excellent choice if you experience bleeding gums after brushing. These types of toothpaste are formulated with ingredients such as stannous fluoride and essential oils, which possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Although toothpaste with anti-gingivitis properties can alleviate gum sensitivity and fight oral bacteria, it is advisable to seek professional dental assistance if you exhibit symptoms of gum disease.

Flossing and Other Interdental Cleaning Techniques

Maintaining good oral hygiene requires regular brushing of teeth. However, it’s important to note that toothbrushes only reach approximately two-thirds of the tooth surface. 

This is where interdental cleaning comes in. Also known as interproximal cleaning, interdental cleaning involves cleaning areas between the teeth with specialized tools such as dental floss and interdental brushes. Incorporating interdental cleaning into your oral care routine is crucial for the following reasons: 

  • Bad breath prevention: Interdental cleaning can eliminate bad breath by removing plaque and food residue from areas that a regular toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Gum disease prevention: Gum disease is caused by unchecked plaque buildup and tartar formation. Interdental cleaning can help prevent gum disease by removing plaque from between the teeth.
  • Tooth decay prevention: Tooth decay often starts between the teeth due to plaque buildup. By removing plaque in these hard-to-reach areas, interdental cleaning significantly reduces the chances of cavity formation.

Tips for Proper Flossing

Dental floss is the most commonly used interdental cleaner. Using the proper flossing technique removes a significant amount of interdental plaque and food residue, reducing your chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease. 

Here are some helpful tips to improve your flossing technique: 

  • Choose the right floss: With many types of dental floss available, it would be best to choose the one you find most comfortable to use.
  • Use enough floss: Cut about 20 inches of floss and wind most of it around your finger, leaving only a few inches free for use.
  • Hold the floss correctly: To ensure effective cleaning, hold the dental floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, gently curve it around the base of each tooth, and use a back-and-forth motion to guide it between your teeth.
  • Use a clean section of floss for each tooth: After you’ve cleaned between one tooth, unwind a clean section of floss from your fingers for the next tooth..

Types of Interdental Cleaners

There are several types of interdental cleaners, each designed to serve a specific dental hygiene need. The most common types of interdental cleaners included the following:

  • Dental floss: Dental floss is a thin string typically made of waxed nylon. Dental floss comes in different thicknesses, with some brands containing flavors for an enhanced flossing experience.
  • Interdental brushes: These are specially-designed toothbrushes for cleaning interdental spaces and areas around dental orthodontics, such as braces and bridges. They come in various sizes to match different spaces between the teeth.
  • Water flossers: Also known as oral irrigators, water flossers use a stream of water to clean interdental spaces. They are particularly helpful in cleaning teeth affected by gingivitis, where flossing can irritate sensitive gums.
  • Rubber tip stimulators: These cone-shaped rubber tips are designed to massage the gums and remove plaque from interdental spaces. Additionally, rubber tip stimulators can provide relief for discomfort following periodontal surgery.

Proper tooth brushing techniques are crucial for maintaining good oral health. The proper technique ensures clean teeth and helps prevent the development of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush in circular motions to ensure you’re brushing your teeth effectively. It’s important to brush every time after eating, but at a minimum, brush at least twice daily for about two to three minutes each time.

Remember, you can maintain optimal oral health for years with proper tooth brushing techniques, regular dental check-ups, and a healthy diet.