Tooth brushing basics
It is important to have the right tools to care for your teeth. You will need a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste.
Using a fluoride toothpaste is the best choice for both children and adults to protect against tooth decay. Squeeze a 'pea-sized' amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush for older children and adults. Place only a smear of toothpaste on the bristles for infants and young children.
An example of a 'pea-sized' amount of toothpaste. Getty Images.
Toothbrushing should be done twice per day. It should be done in the morning and again at night for two minutes each time. Brushing your teeth at night should be the last thing you do before bed, with no food or drink after brushing.
Brushing for two minutes means brushing the teeth in each corner of the mouth for approximately 30 seconds. Each corner of the mouth is called a quadrant.
Research has shown that on average, people remove only 27% of dental plaque from the teeth with 1 minute of brushing. In 2 minutes, only 42% of dental plaque has been removed. Therefore it is important to use a good technique when brushing your teeth to make sure that you reach and clean all tooth surfaces. Following the same steps each time you brush can help you to make sure all surfaces of the teeth that can be reached by your toothbrushed are cleaned every time you brush.
Do not use too much pressure when brushing. This may cause damage to the teeth and cause your toothbrush bristles to become worn quicker. Toothbrush bristles that have spread apart or are worn can stop you from cleaning your teeth well. One way to tell if you are applying too much pressure when brushing is if the toothbrush bristles have spread out to sit outside the plastic base of the toothbrush head in less than 3 months. Some electric toothbrushes have a built-in pressure-sensor that will tell you when you are using too much pressure when brushing.
A new toothbrush (left) and a toothbrush with worn bristles that have spread apart to sit outside the plastic base (right). Getty Images.