You’ve been brushing you teeth since you were a child. So you know how to brush your teeth, right? But if you seem to have a lot of plaque build up between dental visits, perhaps you should revisit your brushing routine.

Here are some steps to brush your teeth and keep that plaque from building up between checkups.

1.  First floss in between each tooth to dislodge any food or plaque that maybe trapped. A toothbrush can not get in between the teeth so flossing first is very important before brushing.

2.  Hold your toothbrush horizontally along your teeth with only some of the bristles on the gums. Tilt your brush so that it is pointing at a 45 degree angle to the gums.

3.  Brush with a small circular motion trying to focus on each tooth individually. Brush with this motion for about twenty strokes. If your gums are healthy,brushing like this should not cause pain. So if it is painful, you may have inflammation which is the beginning stages of gingivitis or even periodontitis (gum disease).

4.  Make sure the brush is at a 45 degree angle and start at the gum line with the circular strokes because most buildup starts at the gum line. This will help remove plaque from under your gum line, where the most amount of plaque buildup is found.

5.  Repeat this method on the outsides and insides every tooth. It can be difficult to hold your brush horizontally on the inside of your teeth, so when you find the horizontal position difficult, you can hold your brush vertically instead.

6.  After you have finished with the sides of your teeth, you can tackle the chewing surface of your teeth. Hold your toothbrush so that the bristles are flush to the surface of the teeth. Gently brush back and forth or if you prefer in small circles.

7.  Rinse with water. This is an important step that many people leave out. If you don’t rinse, small bits of tartar can re-adhere to the surface of your teeth.

8.  Clean even more bacteria from your mouth plus freshen your breath by cleaning your tongue. Brush firmly but gently. This can be a difficult step if you have a strong gag reflex but it is important to brush your entire tongue. You can also use a tongue scrap if your tooth brush causes you to gag.

Rinse again.

Dr. Frazier also recommends a mouthwash rinse after each time you brush such as Listerine, Act, or Crest ProHealth to kill bacteria in your mouth and to freshen your breath.