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How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly

18 March 2016

Cavities; most people get at least a cavity or two at some point in their lives.

Even people who brush every day get cavities and are often left wondering why and how that could happen. The fact is that many of us are brushing incorrectly, or at least not as effectively as possible.

Here are the facts on cavities, and how to properly brush to prevent them.


Cavities form from tooth decay that reaches a point where the tooth has a hole in it. This can be dangerous because bacteria can get into that hole and cause infections that can lead to health problems.

Teeth can start decaying when certain foods you eat, such as those containing sugar, react with the bacteria in your mouth to form plaque, which sticks to your teeth and eats away at the enamel of your teeth, causing decay. Proper tooth brushing should be aimed at removing the plaque.


Dental flossing - Dr. Ailbhe O'Sullivan - 3Dental Dublin & Limerick

Proper flossing will remove any food particles and plaque that accumulates between your teeth, where the brush can’t reach. Take an arms-length of floss, and wrap it around your index and middle fingers until there’s about two inches left.

Gently slip it between your teeth, making sure to get both sides. You can move to new sections of floss as it wears down. You can floss before or after brushing, but make sure to rinse if you do it after.

Rinsing Your Mouth

Give your mouth a rinse with a mouthwash containing fluoride and chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide works to kill bacteria and sanitise the mouth. Follow the instructions on the bottle for the proper length of time to rinse.

The best way to avoid cavities is by brushing properly at least twice a day. Follow this guide and you will keep your dentist happy and you’ll leave every appointment smiling. Find out more on our routine check ups page.  

Using The Right Toothbrush

toothbrush - dental hygiene

A soft bristle brush is the best tool to fight against plaque. Harder bristles can scratch your gums and damage your teeth.

An electric toothbrush works great as well, as long as you let the brush do the work without any brushing motions on your part. A good fluoride toothpaste is also important. Fluoride strengthens your teeth and protects against harmful bacteria.

Brush At A 45-Degree Angle

How to brush your teeth - Dr. Ailbhe O'Sullivan - 3Dental Dublin & Limerick
How to brush your teeth explained by Ailbhe O'Sullivan at 3Dental

Place your brush at a 45-degree angle at the spot where your gum meets your teeth. This is known as the gum line. Gently rub the spot back and forth for two seconds, and then swipe away from the gum ten times.

This will push plaque off your teeth and away from the gums where it can do harm. Keep moving along the gum line until you’ve covered all of your teeth, front and back.

Then you can brush the chewing surfaces on top of your teeth. The whole process should take about 2-3 minutes. Do not brush horizontally along the gum line. This can cause your gums to recede, exposing the roots underneath, which causes pain and possibly infection. You can also brush your tongue to deal with bacteria there.


It is advisable to get a dental check up every 6 months. 

If you pay PRSI, you are entitled some free and / or discounted treatments. Full details can be found on our PRSI Dental Entitlements page.

We also offer free initial consultations and would love to welcome into either our Dublin, Limerick or Galway clinics.

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