You're Probably Brushing Your Teeth Wrong—Try These Dentist-Approved Tips for a Better Smile

Improve the overall health of your smile with these five dentist-approved ways to brush your teeth properly.

Sure, you've adopted a regular gym routine and take diligent care of your skin, but when is the last time you actually considered your oral health? One in four adults have cavities, while nearly half of all adults in the U.S. suffer from gum recession. Even scarier: Tooth decay is the second most common disease among adults after the common cold.

An unsound mouth has the potential to negatively impact your overall health, and can ultimately contribute to health conditions like heart disease and pregnancy complications. To better understand the daily steps everyone can take to improve their oral health, we asked Joe Willardsen, DDS, the founder of True Dentistry in Las Vegas and a dental advisory board member for Shyn, for his tips on how to brush your teeth properly.

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Two is the magic number (minutes, that is). According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should brush your teeth for two minutes, twice per day. "To ensure you're brushing for the recommended time, choose a toothbrush with a built-in timer to do the work for you," says Dr. Willardsen.

Take the Pressure Off Your Gums

Interestingly enough, brushing too hard may damage your teeth. "It can wear down enamel and cause gum recession," says Dr. Willardsen. Make sure you do a thorough job of brushing, and take the pressure off your gums and teeth by brushing gently.

Focus on Your Whole Mouth

Let's face it: Most of us brush our teeth in a hurry before bed or dashing out the door. "Many people move too quickly while brushing without a sense of order," says Dr. Willardsen. "As a result, it's possible to miss some surfaces of your teeth." There are four quadrants in your mouth, so try brushing one quadrant at a time to reach all of your pearly whites. Confused on how long to spend on each quadrant? Invest in an electric toothbrush ($54; that alerts you when to move on.

Know Your Brush Head

Not all brush heads are created equal. "Speak to your dentist about the best fit for your oral healthcare needs—whether you want whiter teeth, plaque prevention, or improved gum care," Dr. Willardsen says. The next time you replace your toothbrush (ideally, every three months), pick a brush head that suits your needs.

Learn How to Floss Properly Every Time

It's no secret that flossing is an important part of preventing gum diseases like gingivitis. "Single-use floss picks make it quick and easy to get in between your teeth and it doubles as a pick to remove large pieces of food along the gum line," Willardsen says. Want to make your next trip to the dentist more pleasant? Brush up (pun intended) on our easy flossing guide before your next appointment.

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