Can you remember how you learned to brush your teeth? If you’re lucky, your mom or dad taught you and guided you on proper form and oversaw the task until you were old enough to do it by yourself. But not everyone had that kind of experience, so perhaps the task of teaching you how to brush your teeth was left to others in your life, or worse, you had to figure it out on your own.

Whether you’re a millennial in need of a “life skill” reminder or someone who is genuinely curious about the most efficient and effective way to take care of your smile, there’s no embarrassment in admitting you need to brush up on your home dental care skills. 

Pick Your Supplies

Gather your supplies. You’ll need a minimum of a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and, optionally, a mouth rinse. It’s not as simple as just grabbing any old supplies. While anything is certainly better than nothing, you’ll want the best tools for optimal results. 
A  toothbrush that’s small enough to reach all parts of your mouth is ideal — no one wants to strain or contort their cheeks to try to get into nooks and crannies. Choose a brush with soft bristles to avoid overdoing it and causing abrasion damage to your teeth’s enamel. Whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush is up to you — some studies suggest that electric toothbrushes have more plaque-busting power than their manual counterparts, and others value the timer that comes standard on most models to ensure you spend enough time brushing your teeth. 
Next, pick a fluoridated toothpaste. The paste itself helps remove grime, biofilm, plaque and germs, but fluoride provides an extra layer of protection against decay. This is especially important if you drink well water or primarily sip bottled water, which may lack the fluoridation that tap water has. 
Finally, choose a floss and rinse.  Flossers that make it easier to floss on the go aren’t ideal for home use, as you can’t get a good wrap around a tooth as easily. If you can use traditional floss, save the floss picks for travel times and lunches away from home and grab some standard floss — flavor and wax level is up to you. A mouthwash can dislodge any food particles left at the end of the process, provide more fluoride for protection and keep bad breath at bay for longer after you’ve brushed, but it isn’t completely mandatory like a good toothbrush, paste and floss. 

Floss First

Floss first to help control plaque better. By getting into the hidden nooks and crannies between your teeth and gums, you’ll bring out more of the stuff you want to get rid of from your mouth. Select a length of floss comfortable enough to wrap around your fingers with an inch or so extra between them. Place the floss between your teeth and work it around the tooth in a crescent shape, taking care to get all the way up to and near the gum line. Do this for each tooth, grabbing a new piece of floss as necessary. 

Brushing 101

You’ll need to brush your teeth twice a day — minimum — and more if you’re indulging in sugary snacks full of refined carbs that can fuel bacteria that lead to decay. You’ll need to do it for a minimum of two minutes each time — use “2×2” to remember the frequency and duration. 
Wet your toothbrush and place a pea-sized dollop of paste on the brush. Angle the brush approximately 45 degrees to your gum line and work in small, circular motions to brush. Don’t saw back and forth with the brush — this can cause harm and damage your teeth over time. Instead, gently buff as you would a fine piece of silver jewelry or an expensive sports car. 
Brush every surface of your teeth — the front, which is viewable when you smile, as well as the back, which is the surface that faces your tongue. Brush the tops, which you use to chew. Try to get the sides, where your molars meet your cheeks, as well.

If you’re really trying to brush every surface of each tooth, you should have no problem meeting the minimum two minutes you need to brush your teeth. If you’re using a manual toothbrush without a timer, set one on your phone or watch. Or put on your favorite short song to make the task more enjoyable. 

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve flossed and brushed, the rest is just gravy, as they say. Brush your tongue or use a specialized tongue scraper to minimize bad breath. Use a mouthwash after you’ve rinsed and spit your toothpaste out to the same end.

Home care isn’t the end-all, be-all of keeping your smile healthy: for that, you need to see your dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning. The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur can help. We’ve made it easy to get you in and out as quickly and painlessly as possible. Give our office a call at (201) 560-0606 or send us an email by clicking here to book your spot electronically.

Not only can we provide you with some basic “adulting 101” level advice on brushing and flossing — judgment free! – but we can also help you select a toothbrush and toothpaste that are right for your mouth’s individual needs.