Dental Health Print Guide to Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way By Shawn Watson Updated April 04, 2019 More in Dental Health Procedures & Treatments Orthodontics Cosmetic Dentistry Pediatric Dentistry Dental Conditions Brushing your teeth properly will help prevent conditions such as gingivitis and tooth decay. If you aren't brushing right with a soft-bristled brush you might be causing tooth abrasion or even damaging your gums. Follow these steps to brush your teeth the right way. Before you can brush, you have to floss your teeth. Flossing is an incredibly important, yet often neglected, part of oral health. It might be painful at first, especially if you aren't in the habit of regularly flossing, but try to make it a part of your daily routine. Dental floss is able to reach the tiny crevices between your teeth that a toothbrush can't. If you make flossing a habit, you will definitely notice a difference in the way your mouth feels. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice each day with a soft-bristled toothbrush using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. You should also clean between your teeth one each day (such as by flossing). 1 Prepare your toothbrush Glow Wellness/Getty Images Once you've finished flossing, wet your toothbrush with water and apply a thin strip of toothpaste. If you've ever stood in the toothpaste aisle at the store, you can attest to the innumerable amount of toothpastes that are available. It all depends on your own preferences, but try to use one that contains fluoride, which protects the teeth against cavities and prevents tooth decay. 2 Start in the back Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Start with your upper molars, or your back teeth, on one side of your mouth and work in a clockwise direction. Point the bristles toward the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Brush using short, circular motions for approximately 20 seconds. 3 Roll away Photo © Shawn Marie Watson After 20 seconds, roll the brush head away from the gum line so the bristles sweep the surface of the tooth, removing plaque and food particles in the process. 4 Work in a clockwise direction Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Continue working in a clockwise direction, finishing up with the lower molars on the other side of your mouth. Repeat steps two and three for the inside surfaces of the upper and lower molars. 5 Brush behind the upper front teeth Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Brush the lingual, or back surface of the upper front teeth by using the tip of the toothbrush head. Direct the bristles toward the gum line and use a flicking motion down the surface of the tooth. Repeat this two or three times for a more thorough clean. 6 Brush behind the lower front teeth Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Point the bristles of the tip of the toothbrush toward the gum line and flick the bristles up and away from the gumline in a sweeping motion. Repeat this step two or three more times. 7 Brush the top surfaces of the teeth Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Brush the top, biting surfaces of the upper and lower premolars and molars using a circular motion. 8 Brush the tongue and the insides of the cheeks Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Teeth aren't the only things in your mouth that need to be cleaned. Your tongue, the roof of your mouth and the insides of your cheeks can also hold onto food particles, plaque, and bacteria that make your breath smell. Just like your teeth, they deserve a good cleaning. With a gentle, circular motion, thoroughly brush your tongue, the insides of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth. 9 Finish up with a rinse Photo © Shawn Marie Watson Wrap up with a rinse. Use water or your choice of mouthwash. Don't forget to smile! Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources The American Dental Association. Oral Health Topics - "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums".