Most of us learned how you should brush teeth in early childhood, probably by the time we started kindergarten. But have you updated your brushing technique since then? If not, our Hudsonville, MI, dentists suggest you need to do so. Taking care of your oral health is a life skill that should grow along with you, just like other hygiene habits. How you brushed your teeth at age 5 shouldn’t be how you brush your teeth at age 35. Here’s what you need to know so you can fend off cavities, gum disease, and overall brush your teeth the right way as an adult. How to Brush Your Teeth The general rule and the American Dental Association’s (ADA) official recommendation is that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Most people choose to brush first thing in the morning and right before bed, so they don’t forget. It’s also a nice way to ensure your mouth is clean both when you start your day and when you go to sleep. Each time you brush your teeth, you should brush for 2 whole minutes. On average, most Americans only brush for 45 seconds which is not enough. Brushing for 2 minutes actually removes 26% more dental plaque than just brushing for 45 seconds. If you’re not sure how long you’re brushing for, set a timer or use a toothbrush with a built-in one to make sure you get a full 2 minutes. As far as your actual brushing technique, the ADA and our dentists recommend that you hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Brush all the surfaces of your teeth with gentle, tooth-wide strokes. Remember to also brush your tongue as part of your oral hygiene routine. Choosing the Right Toothbrush Your brushing technique will only get you so far if you’re not using the right toothbrush. When it comes to bristles, soft is the way to go. Brushing your teeth is supposed to be a gentle process; you want to remove plaque and food particles, not your own tooth enamel. Soft bristles also offer some forgiveness if you’re a more aggressive brusher. You’ll also want to choose a toothbrush with multi-level or angled bristles; these remove plaque better than flat ones. When it comes to size, a standard adult-sized toothbrush should work, although you may prefer a more compact size if you have a smaller mouth. If you’re trying to choose between an electric or traditional toothbrush, there is no right answer. There are many different types of toothbrushes, so select what works best for you. If you’re worried about brushing for 2 minutes, for example, then an electric toothbrush that has a built-in timer may be the best option. When You Should Swap Out Your Toothbrush Sometimes you get so used to cleaning with a toothbrush that you lose track of how old it is. A good rule of thumb to follow is to change it out after 3-4 months. The same goes for a powered brush head. Take note of the month when you buy the toothbrush or replaceable head. Remembering the date can help you plan months out and know when to retire your old toothbrush. You should also pick up a new toothbrush when: \tThere are signs of wear and tear, like frayed or bent bristles. \tYou’ve recently recovered from a cold. Germs could still be present and lead to reinfection. Additional Oral Hygiene Habits Brushing your teeth regularly is essential for good oral health, but it isn’t the only tool in your arsenal. You’ll need to incorporate these additional practices to ensure a healthy smile: \tFlossing daily \tUsing mouth rinse daily \tStaying hydrated \tAvoiding sugary foods and drinks \tScheduling regular teeth cleanings Schedule Your Next Teeth Cleaning Our dentists in Hudsonville, MI, can help you practice good oral hygiene and protect your smile. To schedule your next teeth cleaning, call Hudsonville Dental at (616) 209-4024, or contact us online to request an appointment. This blog post has been updated.