This is the first post in a series on proper dental care techniques. The previous series, “Tools of the Trade” focused on getting the best tools for the job. Now we will put those tools to work.

The foundation of an excellent home care regimen is great tooth brushing. Teeth should be brushed after each meal to remove the harmful plaque building bacteria that is present in the foods and drinks we all enjoy. At a minimum, brushing should occur twice a day.

To adequately reach all necessary areas and ensure proper removal of bacteria, teeth need to be brushed for at least two minutes-a full 120 seconds. Electric tooth brushes with a built-in timer can assist the user in area (see “Tools of the Trade: Choosing the Best Toothbrush”). A simple kitchen timer or stopwatch is also just as effective. It will only take a few timed sessions to get a feel for how long two minutes you should actually be brushing.

Apply a pea-sized amount of the best toothpaste (see “Tools of the Trade: Choosing the Best Toothpaste) to the best toothbrush and start brushing.

When brushing work through each of quadrants individually. Begin with the upper right quadrant and brush the front, back and biting surface of your teeth. Be sure to pay careful attention to the gum line and to any restorations. Hold the toothbrush at a slight angle (45°), this will make it easier to clean between the teeth and get closer to the gum line. Use an even amount of slight pressure and a gently circular stroke. Do not brush too vigorously, doing so can damage gum tissue. Brushing your teeth should not be painful or produce bleeding. Both discomfort and bleeding are indicators that there is an infection or that you are brushing too hard.

After moving through all four quadrants brush the insides of cheeks, the roof of the mouth and the tongue. Many neglect to clean these areas which are commonly full of plaque and bad-breath causing bacteria.

Now that you have cleaned your entire mouth: rinse, spit and check out that dazzling smile in the mirror!

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