The Elements of Style: Proper Tooth Brushing Technique

Since tooth brushing is most often learned in the home at a very young age, it is quite common to pick up your brushing technique from your parents. And while your built-in teachers no doubt had the best of intentions, much like driving, or cooking, or any other skill that is passed down through generations, the lazy habits are learned as much as the basic operating procedure. Have you ever taken the time to learn the proper tooth brushing technique? If not, today is your lucky day!

You’ve probably been told that brushing twice per day is important for maintaining great dental health (which is true), but if you aren’t brushing effectively, the frequency will not make as much of an impact. Now on to some basic elements of proper tooth brushing technique:>


You’ll want to maintain an even and moderate amount of pressure (about the same you would use to hold a pen or pencil). Too light and you won’t be able to lift the plaque build up on your teeth. Too hard and you can risk wearing away protective layers of enamel and irritating, or possibly causing damage to your gums.

Brush Type

Always select a soft-bristled brush as harder brushes in addition to too much pressure can do additional damage to the gums.


Two minutes is the general timeframe you should set out for brushing your teeth. Play a favourite song or set an egg timer if you have to. Dividing your mouth into four quadrants (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) and spending 30 seconds in each area will help to ensure that you are reaching every single tooth.

Bristle Direction

If you’re brushing regularly, the plaque you are trying to get rid of should be fairly soft and should be brushed away quite easily. If the direction of your bristles are perpendicular to your teeth and gums, not parallel, it should make the job even easier.

Brushing Motion

Beginning with your brush at the base of the teeth, make soft round motions with your hand which should cause the brush to move gently from root to tip. Pay attention to what you are doing to make sure that pressure and motion are even throughout your entire mouth, and never saw back and forth!

*Additional Tip: We often start our brushing routine with the same side of the mouth each time, beginning with proper pressure and technique and gradually getting lazier as time passes by. To make sure each quadrant gets an even amount of attention, try switching up which side you begin with.

Feature image via Kits Family Dental