Brushing is the most effective method for removing harmful plaque from your teeth and gums. Getting the debris off your teeth and gums in a timely manner prevents bacteria in the food you eat from turning into harmful, cavity causing acids.

Most dentists agree that brushing two (2) times a day is the minimum, and some people need to brush 3 times a day. If you use a fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bed at night, you can probably get away without using toothpaste during the middle of the day. A simple brushing with plain water or rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch will generally do the job.

Brushing techniques

Since everyone's teeth are different, see your dentist first before choosing a brushing technique. Here are some popular techniques that work and do not cause injury to your teeth or gum tissues:

  • With a soft or extra-soft toothbrush, use a small circular motion to brush only two or three teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth. Hold your toothbrush more like a pencil, and less like a hammer
  • Place your toothbrush next to your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush in a circular motion, not scrubbing back and forth or up and down. This kind of motion wears down your tooth structure and can lead to receding gums, or expose the root of your tooth. You should brush all surfaces of your teeth - front, back, top, and between other teeth, rocking the brush back and forth gently to remove any plaque growing under the gum.
  • Don't forget the other surfaces of your mouth that are covered in bacteria - including the gums, the roof and floor of your mouth, and most importantly, your tongue. Brushing your tongue not only removes trapped bacteria and other disease-causing germs, but it also freshens your breath.
  • Remember to replace your brush when the bristles begin to spread because a worn toothbrush will not properly clean your teeth.
  • Effective brushing usually takes about three minutes. Believe it or not, studies have shown that most people rush during tooth brushing. Although they think they spend 2-3 minutes, most people only spend about 30-45 seconds. Trying to make up for a shorter brushing time by being more aggressive will probably cause your teeth and gums to be damaged.
  • A power sonic toothbrush is a fabulous invention! By causing special sonic vibrations through the water in your mouth, these toothbrushes disrupt plaque and bacteria up to 3 millimeters (mm) past the end of the bristles! Unlike an old-fashioned manual toothbrush, a sonic toothbrush can actually affect places it does not directly contact.
  • Ask Dr. Chapman which sonic toothbrushes she recommends.