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Home Home Oral Health How to Use Your Toothbrush and Keep It Clean
How to Use Your Toothbrush and Keep It Clean
News - WebMD Oral Health
Jupiter, FL Dentist

You know you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, but are you getting the most out of it? Your technique -- and the type of toothbrush you use -- can make a big difference.

How to Choose a Brush

You've got two big decisions when it comes to picking your toothbrush: 1) what kind of bristle to get and 2) whether to go electric or manual.

Dentists say soft bristles are less likely to rough up your mouth.

"The harder the bristle, the more potential damage to the tooth surface and the gum tissue," says Sheryl Syme, an associate professor of dental hygiene at University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

Many dentists also recommend electric or battery-operated brushes over regular ones, says Marc Ottenga, DDS, a professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. The powered types can make it easier to brush your teeth the right way.

"You can place the electric brush in the proper position, and it creates the motion you need to clean at the gum line, which is where we're trying to focus," Ottenga says.

But if you're not ready to part ways with your regular toothbrush, don't stress about it. As long as you use the right technique, it works just as well as an electric one.

Brush heads come in many shapes and sizes, too. Choose one that's comfortable for you. Bigger isn't necessarily better.

"Most people could get away with a small to a medium-sized head," Syme says. "The larger ones tend to try to brush too many teeth at the same time and they end up being less effective."

What's the Right Technique?

Whether your brush is powered or not, here's the best way to use it:

Get the angle right. Tilt the bristles towards your gums at a 45-degree slant.

Be gentle. Move the brush back and forth in strokes about one tooth wide.

"If you're going side to side with larger strokes and pressing too hard, you can do a lot of damage, causing gum recession and sometimes notching at the gum line at the root of the tooth," Ottenga says. "Over time that can do a lot of damage."

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