You've only got one set of teeth, so it's best to look after them. The easiest way to do that is to ensure that you are brushing correctly. Brushing incorrectly can be bad for your long term dental health, wearing away your tooth enamel and gums; whereas brushing correctly can help to prevent problems like cavities and gum disease and leave you with healthy, happy teeth for the rest of your days.
The Right Brush
The first thing to think about is whether you have the right tools for the job. Using a brush that has hard bristles can hurt your gums and not get at the plaque between the teeth, so it's best to use a soft or medium brush that can fit into all the spaces in the mouth. Electric brushes are particularly good for this, as they tend to have a smaller head, but as long as your brush is comfortable for you and not too hard bristled, it will do.
Toothpastes with whitening agents can be harsh on teeth too, with the small particles grinding away at tooth structure. So it is recommended to use normal fluoride toothpaste and occasionally harsher whitening toothpastes for a single session if you want to keep your smile bright. You should try to brush twice a day, as the Australian dental association recommends, and wait one hour after eating before brushing your teeth.
Next you should think about technique. A common and major mistake people make is brushing from side to side, which can damage your gums and lead to bleeding or gum disease. It's best to brush from top to bottom with the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum, using small circles. You should start from the back of the mouth, working forwards. Try to imagine your mouth as four sections and brush each for 30 seconds, staying aware of what you are doing as you brush, and making sure you get to all the surfaces of your teeth that you can. When you finish brushing, spit and do not rinse. The extra fluoride will help your teeth to fight bacteria in your mouth after you have brushed.
Brushing like this twice a day along with eating a balanced diet and flossing regularly (to make sure that both food particles and plaque between the teeth are removed) will keep your teeth squeaky clean for years to come.
For more information on how to care for your teeth, talk to your dentist.