What Your Teeth-Brushing Style Says About You, According to Me (and a Dentist)

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Lately, I've been much more diligent about my oral-care routine. I'm talking brushing, flossing, the whole nine yards I should have been doing since I first learned the basics for how to brush your teeth. Better late than never, right?

Anyway, with my newfound appreciation for my pearly whites in mind, I was extra interested when my co-workers recently debated the best order of operations for water and toothpaste application for how to brush your teeth. Is it toothpaste, rinse? Rinse, toothpaste? Rinse, toothpaste, rinse? I drew a total blank, realizing I've never considered the thought and couldn't remember how I do it every day, twice a day, per the American Dental Association. How do I brush my teeth, I wondered? And, more importantly, am I doing it…wrong?

Despite having been subject to countless demonstrations courtesy of dental hygienists over the last couple decades, I've never thought about whether the order in which I paste-up might matter. I mean, I know there are plenty of factors that do matter—like storing your brush properly so it dries well and doesn't kiss bristles with any neighboring brushes, and not sharing brushes with anyone else, and not opting for charcoal paste. But water-pasting order? No clue.

Below, check out what your water-pasting brush order says about your personality. And then, more importantly, what's actually optimal for your oral health, according to a dentist.

Rinse the brush, then apply toothpaste

This seems to be the most popular method, so if it's what you do, take solace in being amid the majority. Rinse-and-paste people are decidedly no-frills. Maybe you favor minimalism, or maybe you're the chillest of the chill, someone who's just looking to have a good time and not spend a million hours brushing. Why overcomplicate things, you know?

Rinse the brush, then apply toothpaste, then re-rinse

You have the most luxe toothbrushing ritual. Likewise, the steps in your skin-care routine are a full staircase, and you take pleasure in every little indulgence. You have strong "treat yourself" energy, and though you may skew high-maintenance, you have a glowing personality and equally glowing teeth.

Apply toothpaste to brush, then rinse

You're really interested in creating flow, balance, and letting water and toothpaste come together as one on a brush. You meditated for an hour before brushing, and live life according you your Co-Star horoscope.

Apply toothpaste dry

There isn't much to say here except good luck with that calcified stick you call a toothbrush.

A dentist's take:

Drumroll, please: When it comes to who's "right" in the toothbrushing recipe debate, cosmetic dentist Lawrence Fung, DDS, was able to clear things up right quick. Ultimately, the order doesn’t really matter, he says. "What is important is that you are brushing at a 45-degree angle to the gums in short strokes."

Oh, and Dr. Fung personally prefers to rinse his brush then apply his toothpaste, because he likes to soften the bristles before applying them to his teeth. So basically, I think we found a winner.

BTW, you're good to skip this step in your dental hygiene routine. And we have three dentist-approved ways to whiten your teeth, no bleach required.

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