Are you brushing on automatic every morning? If so, your teeth aren’t as clean as they could be.

There are two ways most people learn to brush their teeth as children: By rote and just guessing. If you learned to brush by rote, then your parents likely walked you through the brushing process once step at a time. “Brush the tops, then back-and-forth. Now brush the front of your teeth.” And if you learned to brush by guessing, then your parents were the type that just said “Brush your teeth!” and expected you to figure it out.

Believe it or not, both approaches are about as likely to be the ideal way to brush your teeth. In fact, many people don’t actually understand why they brush the way they do. Just that brushing is good, and they have a way to do it. But to really get your teeth sparkling clean and gain the full benefits of daily tooth brushing, you’ll actually need to understand how tooth brushing works. And why the right way is the right way.

The Philosophy Behind Tooth Brushing

We can all agree that the purpose of tooth-brushing is to get your teeth clean (and make sure your breath smells nice). But are your teeth really getting clean? Have you thought carefully about what the toothbrush is doing to get you toward that goal? Or do you just go through your normal routine, thinking about the work or breakfast that’s next on your schedule?

The next time you brush your teeth, try getting your brain involved. Think about the surfaces of your teeth and where plaque might be hiding in there.  Think about how the movements of your brush should be getting the bristles into every groove and crevice to scrub your teeth clean. And think about how plaque likes to hide and dig into the gums when you’re wielding the floss string.

Simply applying your mind to brushing can seriously increase the effectiveness and, in time, your overall dental health.

Your Teeth Have 6 Sides

If you’ve ever looked closely at a molar, you can see how a tooth can be thought of as a ridgy-cube with 6 sides. 3 for brushing, 2 for flossing, and one buried deep in your gums.

Top: The Chewing Surface

The top side is your chewing or cutting surface, what bites into your food for you. This side is the most important for molars, because you can get food (which grows into plaque) stuck in the top ridges. You want to brush the top thoroughly, using enough pressure to push the bristles down into the grooves of your molars.

Front and Back: Vanity vs Cleanliness

The front and back sides are also for brushing, though most people are far more concerned with the front of their teeth than the back. So you brush the front flats carefully to look good. But if you feel ‘roughness’ on the back of your teeth with your tongue, then you’ve been neglecting the back of your teeth in favor of appearances. Be sure to brush both sides just as thoroughly, with bristles hitting all the way down until your gums tingle.

In Between: The Flossing Sides

The sides of your teeth are the toughest to deal with because they touch each other. And your experience will vary significantly based on how close and/or straight your teeth are. When brushing, do try to get the bristles between your teeth. But remember, that’s what flossing is for. When flossing, make sure to scrape the entire sides of both teeth for every space you floss. And dip the string down into the ‘pit’ in your gums in between. That’s where plaque likes to hide and cause painful gum problems.

Don’t Skip the Mouthwash

Mouthwash is one of the best at-home dental solutions we’ve ever come up with. It kills bacteria, discourages plaque, and can be used to swish little particles of food out of your mouth. Plus, it makes your breath minty-fresh. Something that matters a lot in modern adult life.

But mouthwash isn’t just convenient, or a great fix if you don’t have time to brush. It’s also very important after you brush. You see, the toothbrush didn’t necessarily carry away the plaque, just dislodged it from your teeth. Rinsing and mouthwash will make sure every bit of plaque and food is washed out of your mouth so they don’t just re-establish after you brush.

And, of course, try to hold the mouthwash in for as long as you can stand up to a minute. This gives it time to disinfect.

If you are brushing on automatic every morning, you’re doing your teeth a disservice. Ideal toothbrushing takes attention to detail, thinking about the 5 surfaces of your teeth and the gumline. Fortunately, you only need to focus on your teeth a few times before your hand learns the new, more thorough routine and you can go back to thinking about work or breakfast while you brush. Just remember to check-in with your brushing procedure from time to time to ensure that you are still adhering to the philosophy of tooth brushing. For more insights into your tooth health, contact us today!