How to Brush Your Teeth by Number

Your teeth are numbered from one to 32. If you’re new to proper oral hygiene, brushing your teeth by number can help you know exactly what part of your mouth to brush and which areas require more attention. Here’s how it works: Your top right tooth is Tooth #1, the next tooth down and across the jaw is Tooth #2, and so on until you reach your last tooth, Tooth #32, in the lower left jaw area.

Start at tooth 1

Starting at tooth number one (both upper and lower teeth), use your index finger or middle finger to grab onto each tooth while using your thumb or ring finger to massage along that gum line. When you get to a molar, use a circular motion with your toothbrush rather than back-and-forth motions. It might feel strange at first, but it’s better for both your gums and teeth. And if you do wind up brushing too hard, simply back off until you feel comfortable again. If you have any questions about how to brush your teeth by number, just ask! We’re here to help.

Brush back and forth

It’s simple. Use small, gentle strokes that go back and forth across your teeth. Use a circular motion on your molars, or brush up and down on your bicuspids and other front teeth. The key is consistency; use a timer, if you have one. To make sure you’re getting everything covered, brush each of your teeth for at least two minutes—that means spending about 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth: upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left. Make sure to brush all surfaces, including both biting surfaces of your molars and inside surfaces of your front teeth. Brushing for less time won’t get you as clean as brushing longer will. And be careful not to scrub too hard with a manual toothbrush – it can wear away enamel over time. If you want an electric toothbrush, look for one with sonic technology that has smaller heads than older models (which were larger). Sonic brushes also tend to be gentler on gums because they vibrate faster than traditional ones do.

Move on to the next teeth

Most people already know how important it is to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. What many people don’t realize is that you should actually be brushing your teeth by number. As in, working your way from tooth number one all the way up to 32 and then back down again. That’s right—you need a whole two minutes for each set of pearly whites! So, if you get through all 32 and want to start over, you should start from tooth number one again. Trust us: It makes sense after a few tries! If that doesn’t work for you, try moving on to a different part of your mouth. Still not satisfied? Just use an electric toothbrush—they do all of that pesky math for you! There are lots of options out there, but we love The Philips Sonicare HX6730/50 Rechargeable Toothbrush . Not only does it feel like a real toothbrush (it isn’t those fancy sonic ones), but it comes with a built-in timer so you can focus on getting through your teeth at whatever pace works best for you. Remember: You can always go slower if needed—just keep going!

Rinse your mouth

Now that you’ve brushed your teeth, it’s time to get rid of any leftover toothpaste. The easiest way to do so is by rinsing. Hold a mouthful of water in your mouth for 30 seconds (swish it around if you want), then spit it out; repeat until you feel like all the toothpaste has been washed away. Afterward, rinse with a little more water. Rinse until all traces of toothpaste are gone and your breath doesn’t taste like mint or chemicals anymore—or however long it takes for your breath to be fresh and clean again. If you can stand it, put off brushing your teeth again for another 20 minutes or so.

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