The Guinness Book of World Records currently lists the World’s Largest Toothbrush Collection as containing 1,320 different brushes.  While that is an impressive amount, the key to maintaining gum health is not how many toothbrushes you own, but rather how effectively you brush your teeth!  To brush effectively, below are six tips we recommend to our patients.

1) Toothbrush selection: Always use a soft bristle toothbrush. Hard bristles are very abrasive to the tooth enamel, while soft bristles gently clean plaque from the teeth and keep the enamel intact. Hard bristles are also irritating to the gums and may push them away from the teeth.

2) When should you brush your teeth?: The goal is to remove the debris and plaque from the teeth.  After eating food or drinking non-water liquids, it is important to brush your teeth as soon as possible.  If you ingest acidic food/drinks or have acid reflux, wait 30 minutes before brushing.

3) Toothbrush angle: Tilt the toothbrush 45 degrees to the tooth and place the bristles on the gumline.  Gently brush the outside and inside surface of each tooth using back and forth strokes.

4) Toothbrush motion: Do not scrape across multiple teeth.  Focus on an individual tooth area and apply the toothbrush using back and forth strokes at the gumline (described above).  Then, lift the toothbrush and move it to the next tooth area.  Apply and repeat until all tooth surfaces are brushed.

5) How long should you brush?: Spend at least 120 seconds brushing. Keep a clock in the bathroom or use an electric toothbrush with a timer.  Focus on cleaning each tooth for a few seconds.  When you are finished, brush your tongue!

6) How often should you replace your toothbrush?: You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.

Feel free to post a comment if you have an additional tip about toothbrushing you’d like to share.  Smile!

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