Center for Progressive Dentistry
A Great Dentist

Be a Zen Master and Stop Brushing Your Teeth! 3 Steps To Better Oral Health

March 2, 2016
Posted By: Gregory DeVries, DMD (Wayne, NJ)
Drawing of someone meditating

--- Today's blog post comes from a colleague of mine, Dr. Greg DeVries. Dr. DeVries owns and operates Life Smile Dentistry, a family dental practice in Wayne, NJ. Enjoy! ---

As a family dentist, I get the chance to see many different people throughout my day. A good portion of them report brushing twice a day as directed but still struggle with persistent bleeding gums, cavities and other indicators of poor oral health. What’s going on here? Is more brushing needed? Not if brushing means a quick scrub before darting out the door or a hasty polish before collapsing on a pillow. Our oral health is too important to be seen as a repetitive task that just needs to “get done.” If this is your idea of brushing- then you need to stop “brushing your teeth”, and read these 3 steps to better brushing.


  1. Be a zen master: Picture this: It’s the end of a long day and you’re ready to get some rest. The only thing between you and your bed is your pesky conscience, insisting that you brush your teeth.  You pick up your toothbrush, squeeze some toothpaste onto its bristles and begin rotely scrubbing back and forth. As you create those minty fresh bubbles in your mouth, your mind begins to wander; deadlines, anxieties, hopes, wishes, wants and needs... none of these things having anything to do with your oral health. Sound familiar? Many people are brushing twice a day, but how many of us are brushing mindfully? Brushing is a great opportunity to become a zen master. Staying in the moment is important in all areas of life, because mindful practice will lead to quality habits. Brushing is no different. Pay attention. How are you holding your brush? Where are you brushing? Why are you brushing? If your thoughts drift, bring yourself right back to the task at hand.

  2. Put it where it counts. Many people know they should brush, but aren’t sure where or why they should brush. While you are brushing it is most important to remove the plaque from the gum line. The junction of the tooth and gum should be the target of your brush head. Change the way you think about “brushing your teeth” and consider the idea of brushing the junction of your tooth and gum. Proper placement of the toothbrush is everything.

  3. Use the right tool for the job. A small soft brush head is the best option for most people. A smaller head allows you to be nimble, work around corners and reach into tight places like the back corners of your mouth. A smaller head also allows you to mindfully brush individual areas one at a time. A smaller brush head lends itself much easier to conscientious brushing.  Bristle type is important too. Stick to a softer head to avoid deleterious effects of toothbrush abrasion. ​​


Practice these techniques and you will undoubtedly reap the benefits. Mindful brushing takes practice. However, if done properly you may find that brushing can become an enjoyable experience. Harness the same focus with flossing as well to get the most out of your oral hygiene. If nothing else you will enjoy a mouth that not only feels clean but one that is free of plaque. To learn more visit us at

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