How to Brush Your Teeth Correctly And Why I Don’t Like My New Retainers

Back in January I went to see an American dental hygienist Elena, recommended by a friend for an American style dental clean here in Barcelona. It was a life changing or life habit changing visit!

Basically I’ve been cleaning my teeth wrong for ions. I was having gum issues that started when I began wearing my new retainers. One of my old retainers, a ‘flipper’ retainer from years ago broke about a year ago when I started rewearing them after a years break. I paid the price skipping a year with tooth movement, hence new retainers. The replacements are like clear mouth guards. Flippers are more hygienic as I could eat with them in and silva could do it’s job. The way they’re designed they don’t trap nasties or bacteria that can cause plague which can inflame gums leading to tarter, gingivitis which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay or worse heart disease! The new retainers trap everything! Like Invisalign, you remove them to eat and should brush your teeth after eating before putting them back in. That’s hard when you’re out, want a quick snack. Saliva can’t get in to do it’s thing as the retainers are almost vacuum sealed around your teeth. Bacteria builds up, leading to gum issues I was having. My previous dentist said I’m not brushing properly leaving it at that. Add that within a year I’m on my 3rd set of clear retainers! They snap, you can’t eat or drink hot drinks with them in as it weakens the plastic, you drop them, they crack. If you want to loose weight, get retainers. It’s a pain removing them in public, you get used to forgoing snacks. They also discolour teeth as salvia can’t get in. This I noticed in the first 6 months. My teeth weren’t as white as usual. Probably a whole host of diseases and illnesses start with poor dental hygiene that we don’t know about. Whether you wear retainers or not, you need good dental hygiene starting with the basics, brushing!


I’m due back to see about replacement flippers as I personally prefer them and think they work better stopping tooth movement. For every new set of the clear retainers, the retainers are moulded to the current position not the say better tooth position of 6 months previous. She wanted me to stop wearing the clear retainers due to my gums and I met her half way. The old top flipper’s fine which I wear that at night or at home as it’s not as invisible, wearing the clear bottom retainer usually during the day as I forget to wear it at night. Clear retainers you can hardly see wearing which is their appeal over flipper retainers.

Anyways, never have I ever visited the dental hygienist and had so much blood coming out during in between rinses. I think I was there for nearly an hour and half and my teeth never felt so clean afterwards! The biggest takeaway was how to properly clean my teeth. This way I can regrow back receding gums and keep bacteria more at bay.

Flossing’s number one, followed by oil pulling which I do anyway in the mornings with sesame seed oil for 15-20 minutes. I usually feed the cats, slowly wake up, do some laundry at the same time. Evenings, just brushing.

It’s not necessarily brushing for the recommended 2 minutes, it’s how you brush:

Start with a medium soft toothbrush or using a Phillips Sonic Electric toothbrush. Most dentists recommend Phillips over others I think due to their movement. Starting at the back teeth at a 45 degree angle, brush up or flick up the brush, making sure you start below the gum line, brushing 10 times each tooth with a manual brush or 3* times if using an electric toothbrush. It’s all about starting below the gum line to promote gum growth, not scrubbing horizontally which erodes gums! *I usually go for 8.

Do the same for each outside tooth top and bottom.

Next work the inside bit of the teeth, Again starting at a 45 degree angle just below the gum line and flick up. I personally find this more tricky than the outside ones. 10 times each tooth if using a manual toothbrush or 3 times each tooth if using an electric toothbrush.

Up next, the inside front top and inside bottom. This action’s more of a scooping, flicking action. 10 items each tooth if using a manual toothbrush or 3 times each tooth if using an electric toothbrush.

For the tops of the molars that do the chewing, it’s 3 circles each tooth in each direction.

And you’ve got it! A simple know how that transforms! No more toothpaste running down your chin and down your hand. Wait, is that just me?!

When I’m back in next I’m sure she’ll want to see how I’m doing. Sensitivity I had eating dates, anything too sweet or brushing back in January’s gone and I swear some gums are growing back. Ironically I don’t like looking often otherwise I put myself in a mini panic ‘my teeth have moved!’, The gum line hasn’t changed’, ‘I’m going to get gum disease!’ flash through my head. I don’t need that! I use a Philips electric toothbrush as I don’t get on with manual toothbrushes. Manual toothbrushes after a week or 2 make my teeth feel on edge something that electric toothbrushes don’t. Which is a bummer as I can’t use zero waste toothbrushes for this reason. Does anyone else experience this?

If you’re ever in or live in Barcelona and need an English speaking dentist and/or dental hygienist, Tingsvall & McCarthy are your guys**. Elena’s warm and welcoming putting you at ease straight away with her warm New York accent. Her approach’s holistic working on prevention rather than cure and you get a soothing facial massage at the end 🙂 I can’t recommend her enough! Please say Nat sent you!

How do you brush your teeth? Do you get toothpaste everywhere but on your teeth?

** This post isn’t sponsored. I wanted to share with you how to brush your teeth properly to avoid the dentist later 🙂


  1. […] the New Year I visited an American dental hygienist in Barcelona who taught me how to clean my teeth properly. Since then my gum inflammation has gone! Only […]

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  3. says:

    I think there are so many people who dint brush as they should. Myself included. This is really something to practice and do correctly to avoid a host of issues.

    1. says:

      I know! It’s was amazing listening to her and how many issues she thinks are related to bad dental hygiene. She’s gets annoyed dentists and dental hygienist don’t teach clients how they should be brushing their teeth. But there’s no money in ‘healthy’ people! Money’s in the cure!

      It takes a little getting used to brushing this way and it’s more time consuming. However my teeth feel so much cleaner afterwards and feel funny if I don’t brush them this way.

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