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Brushing: Am I doing it right?

Brushing is one of the basic hygiene habits that can influence our health. But the question is how to brush correctly? I find in my dental hygiene experience that clients usually need a little coaching. Brushing correctly means applying a non-damaging technique to clean gums and teeth.

This is what I usually recommend to my clients:

  • Brush gums first and then your teeth.

  • Brushing bottom teeth and gums: starting from the very last tooth on one side of the mouth, massage the gums in a circular motion- away from the gums (from the bottom up) going slowly to the other side- to the very last tooth on the other side. Then do the same on the inside, making sure your toothbrush is on the gums. For brushing the lower front area, I recommend that you tilt your toothbrush vertically as much as possible and you lower your toothbrush on the gums to make it more effective. When you finish massaging the gums, brush your teeth from the top. It should take about 2 minutes just to brush the lower gums.

  • Brushing the uppers: you do the same -only reversed motion/ upside down. First brush the gums outside and inside with a circular motion- away from the gums (from the top down). Then brush the teeth from the top. It should take another 2 minutes.


  1. Your brushing should be gentle to avoid any tissue damage that can cause gum recession.

  2. Always use soft or sensitive toothbrush.

  3. If your gums bleed while massaging them you may have an inflammation. Bring it to the attention of your hygienist. Bleeding is NEVER normal.

This is a very good technique to use with kids. Parents should brush their teeth at least once a day until their hand dexterity is developed enough. Sometimes, kids want to start brushing on their own quite early but it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure it is done correctly. Usually at the age of 8 or 9 their hands are developed enough to take over and the parents can assume the coaching role for a couple of years until they trust their kids completely. Ideally, brushing should be done every day at the same time, always with the same technique. It is an opportunity for parents to teach kids habits that will last through their lifetime. When parents give their children a good foundation, kids may keep their habits even during the rebellious teenage years. If, as a parent, you see your teenagers neglecting oral hygiene, stay relaxed and loving and keep giving them a good example.

Some changes in personal care behavior (personal hygiene, oral hygiene) at any age may indicate depression or other mental health issues. Bring it to the attention of your medical/dental professional.


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