Do you ever wonder "how" to brush your teeth? Is there even really a "how?" Yes, there is. Brushing your teeth should last about two minutes twice a day and cover your whole mouth. Use these steps:

  • Obtain a fluoride toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association.
  • Obtain a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • Brush each tooth with short strokes or tiny circles.
  • Be sure to tilt the brush also at a 45-degree angle near the gums.
  • Brush down on the lower jaw and up on the upper jaw.
  • Repeat the process on the inside of the teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove germs.
  • Once a day, floss thoroughly.
  • Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash.

Unfortunately, most people have not brushed this way their whole lives. They saw their toothbrushes back and forth in long, horizontal strokes. While this may feel good afterwards, this method leaves plaque and food particles between the teeth. If you brush this way too hard, you will also damage the gums.

The Importance of Diet

All people have scraped potato chips out of the spaces on top of their molars occasionally or had to pick recalcitrant pieces of chewy candies off of their incisors. Many foods, though, are beneficial, and some even act as mouth detergents during the day when you're not able to brush.

High-fiber foods and fruits act as "little toothbrushes" themselves and are your best defense against plaque. Cheese and other foods that create excess saliva, such as pickles, citrus fruits, and hard, chewy vegetables are good too. Certain spices, such as cayenne pepper and ginger stimulate saliva, which is nature's first line of defense against tooth decay. Tea also helps because it contains polyphenols that attack the bacteria that cause tooth decay.


It's hard to use traditional floss, particularly if you have a tender gag reflex. Jamming fingers into your mouth can cause an almost immediate feeling of nausea. Fortunately, floss picks are a recyclable, easy alternative. Used correctly, they are as safe and effective as regular dental floss.

A floss pick is basically a piece of dental floss stretched across two prongs of a plastic pick. It looks a little like a slingshot. You insert the floss between two teeth and move it up and down. While you must go below the gum line, don't go too far. The floss in the pick should bend in the shape of a C as you gently scrape. After flossing, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. That will not only freshen your breath but will also remove any bits and other particles.

Electric Toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes make brushing less dexterity-intensive, which means people with arthritis or other hand ailments can brush more comfortably. If you're careful with your handheld toothbrush, however, you can achieve the same results as you can with an electric.

Before Toothbrushes

There weren't many alternatives prior to the 20th century. Toothpicks, alcohol rinses, and rags were the most common methods of cleaning teeth. Scientific men like Aristotle and Plato would use certain powders with their rags. People followed suit over the centuries until toothbrushes hit the market in the 1930s.

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