Teeth Brushing Tips & Techniques

JacobHealth Tips

Brushing | Greville Rd. Medical & Dental

When cleaning with a manual toothbrush – what’s the best technique to use?

We recommend brushing in a gentle circular motion with a soft toothbrush, with your brush aimed 45 degrees to the area where the gum meets the tooth.

The bristles of your brush should only slightly flatten when you brush, otherwise, you are likely to be brushing too hard! You should aim to brush for at least 3 minutes, twice a day after meals.

What are the benefits of using an electric toothbrush?

The electric toothbrush does a lot of the work for you! All you need to do is gently hold your electric toothbrush against the tooth, moving it around the mouth with equal pressure so that the brush can access all tooth surfaces.

An electric toothbrush can make brushing easier because the head is smaller, making it easier to access those areas which are difficult to get to. The other benefit is that if you are guilty of brushing too hard, an electric toothbrush can help stop you damaging the gum and tooth tissues because it applies an equal circular brushing motion to all areas. But you still need to be careful not to push too hard with your electric toothbrush!

The other great thing about electric toothbrushes is that they have a built-in timer which means you are far more likely to brush for at least 2 minutes, although for most adults 2.5 – 3 minutes is ideal.

What are the benefits of a manual toothbrush?

Knowing how to brush with a manual toothbrush is so important because you never know when you will be without your electric toothbrush. It is much easier to take a normal toothbrush travelling with you, and they are much easier & cheaper to buy should you ever forget to take your brush somewhere. We always recommended children do at least one of their brushes with a manual toothbrush so that they develop this important skill.

Manual brushes are often better to use for scrubbing the tongue as well.

So is an electric toothbrush better?

Not necessarily! If you are brushing correctly with the manual brush, for an adequate amount of time and able to manoeuvre your brush well around your mouth, then you might not need an electric toothbrush. Your dentist will be able to advise and recommend if it’s worth making a switch depending on how your gums and teeth look at your dental check-up.

Why is it so important to get brushing right?

Too often we see patients who do not brush correctly meaning that they miss cleaning certain areas on the tooth. This will mean that a film of plaque is left on the teeth which can thus contribute to cavity formation, and gum disease. Another issue is the patients who use the wrong technique and tend to brush too forcefully. If this is not corrected, this can cause irreversible gum and tooth damage, leading to sensitive teeth!

Where exactly should you clean in the mouth?

Each tooth has 5 surfaces and we need to adequately clean all of the – outer surface, the inner surface, biting surface & the 2 sides. Good lighting and practice will help ensure you are reaching all of them! If you are having difficulty reaching the back teeth, you may consider a smaller headed toothbrush. It is also often hard to access the two sides of the tooth, especially if your teeth are close together. Cavities can occur more frequently in-between the teeth for this reason. This is why flossing is equally important to remove the food and debris between the teeth which cannot be removed with brushing alone.

Should you also brush the tongue/roof of the mouth or gums – and how/why?

The area frequently missed, and where plaque tends to stagnate, is the region where the gum meets the tooth. As such, it is vital that you position your brush so that it is touching the gum and the tooth at the same time.

Brushing the tongue will also help minimise the harbouring of odour-causing debris and bacteria on the tongue surface, helping to promote nice smelling breath!  

It’s often said that some foods are like nature’s toothbrushes – celery for example – why is this and what makes a good ‘tooth-friendly’ food?

Although eating crunchy and abrasive foods like celery, apples and carrots have health benefits and may have the ability to remove some superficial deposits and stains on the teeth, this is not a good alternative for toothbrushing.

True tooth-friendly foods are those that help strengthen the teeth and prevent against acid attack. Milk, cheese, unsweetened yoghurt are great examples.

Why shouldn’t you rinse out toothpaste?

The fluoride in toothpaste helps strengthen the teeth against acid attack, and also may help to remineralise areas of enamel weakening. For increased decay prevention, you may choose not to rinse out your toothpaste so that the fluoride stays on your teeth for longer. This is particularly for those who are at higher risk of getting cavities – ie. Those who have a lot of sugar in their diet and those who have had a lot of fillings in the past.

If there was one thing you wish patients knew about cleaning their teeth – or a myth you’d like to dispel – or a mistake you see people making all the time, what would that be, why is it important that we know about it, and, if relevant, what do we need to do instead.

The philosophy that the harder and more vigorous you brush, the better is wrong! You will never be able to remove all the debris on your teeth but as long as you gently disrupt & move the plaque film so that it doesn’t stagnate on the tooth, you will be doing your job correctly. On the flip side, brushing too hard can be very damaging to the teeth and gums. Only use a soft toothbrush, and ensure you a flossing every day – brushing alone is not enough!


If you require an expert dental team in Rosanna to offer expert advice on your wisdom teeth concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Greville Road Medical and Dental.

We accept patient walk-ins from surrounding suburbs, outside of Rosanna: Heidelberg, Greensborough, Ivanhoe, Bundoora and more.

Contact our dental team today to request an appointment, or call us on (03) 9456 9933