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  • Angela Murphy, RDH

Dental tip: Try dry brushing!


In a six-month trial published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, individuals who first brushed their teeth with a toothbrush that didn’t contain toothpaste (and then with toothpaste afterwards) saw a 63% reduction in plaque build-up, and a 55% drop in bleeding. Let’s look at the best way for you to capitalize on this new “old” way of brushing your teeth!

Reasons Why Dry Brushing Works

1) You will brush longer without toothpaste

Ever notice when you brush your teeth you are not really thinking about what you are doing. It may be late at night or early morning, your eyes may be closed and you may be drooling or daydreaming. 30 seconds seems like 2 minutes!

2) You will brush more evenly around the mouth

Toothpaste makes a lot of bubbles and you cannot see what you are doing. You will find you will brush more evenly when not using toothpaste.

3) You will have a way to measure plaque removal with your tongue

Toothpaste flavor and wetting agents numb your tongue so your teeth feel cleaner than they really are

How To Dry Brush

  • Use a dry brush: While a dry brush is most recommended because it’s stiffer than a wet brush, if you’d like to add a little water to your brush to soften it up a bit, it’s not really a big deal. After all, it’s going to get wet in your mouth in a matter of a minute or so, anyway. That said, start with it being dry if you can

  • Shoot for 45-degrees: Effective brushing means brushing at a 45-degree angle to the gumline. Since plaque hangs out near your gums, angling your brush is the best way to remove it effectively. This holds true when dry brushing and when brushing with toothpaste.

  • Brush from the inside, out: The easiest plaque deposits to miss are nearest your tongue, so start on the inside bottom teeth first, then travel to the inside top teeth, then outside to finish up the job.

  • Take your time: Advice on the length of time you should brush can depend on the uniqueness of your own mouth, and range from 1.5 minutes up to 20! So, chat with your dental hygienist about their personal recommendation for your brushing time.

  • Get out of the bathroom: Dry brushing is best done when you’re not in the bathroom. Why? Because you’ve got a deeply ingrained habit that suggests you’ve brushed correctly while standing for a minute or so in the bathroom. So, take the brush into the living room, use it while watching television, or sitting down reading. Be conscious of your technique, the time spent doing it, and what your teeth feel like afterwards. Which brings us to the final step. The feel …

  • Aim for smooth: Brushing dry means brushing for “feel” instead of time. When you’ve done an effective job of removing plaque from your teeth, they should feel as smooth as they do when your teeth are cleaned professionally


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