We are blessed to receive lots of oral health-related questions from folks like you each day.
Overall, the questions cover all sorts of oral health issues, but our readers also commonly ask about how to brush their teeth correctly.
We love to dive into interesting, important, and sometimes obscure topics like how oil pulling helps heal leaky gut and how smiling contributes to greater immune expression.
However, today let’s go back to basics and discuss a frequently-asked brushing question: how do I remove plaque from the inside of my lower front teeth?
Q: “I find it really difficult to clean the inner side (tongue side) of my lower front teeth. How can I remove the plaque from this area?”
It’s super common for plaque to accumulate on the tongue-side surface of our lower front teeth.
Before we discuss how to remove the plaque, let’s address why this happens.
Why plaque accumulates around the lower front teeth
It’s easy to get plaque buildup here because these teeth are close to our salivary glands, which are under our tongue. So, these teeth have the most exposure to recently-produced saliva.
Saliva is one of our body’s mechanisms for remineralizing our teeth. It’s very mineral-rich so it can deliver missing minerals back into tooth areas with surface decay. Since the lower front teeth come into contact with this rich source of minerals first, some of the minerals are deposited there first.
While you’re reading this right now, notice that there is most likely a small pool of saliva under your tongue. This saliva is essentially waiting to be used to support your oral health.
Throughout the day, it’s up to us to help remineralize our teeth by periodically moving the saliva around our mouth and then swallowing it.
If we allow the saliva to just pool and sit, the microbes that are hanging around our lower teeth will use the saliva minerals to build their plaque condos.
We made a video tutorial called ‘Mouth Probiotics’ that explains how to use our saliva to optimize our oral health.
The pH/plaque factor
The pH in our mouth plays a substantial role in whether the saliva minerals are turned into plaque or if they’re used to actually repair our teeth.
Ideally, we want our saliva to be right around a neutral pH of 6.8 to 7.0. This ideal range provides the best environment for balancing our oral microbiome.
A more acidic saliva pH (for example, in the 5.0 to 6.0 range) supports microbial species that tend to be less friendly to our health.
Here’s an article that explains more on saliva pH and how to manage it: ’Tracking your saliva pH – How to know you are heading in the right direction‘.
How to remove plaque from lower front teeth
The simple answer for how to remove plaque from the inner side of the lower front teeth is, ‘however you can’.
However, you know us–we like to share more information rather than just leaving you hanging to figure it out on your own.
Let’s discuss how to clean along the gum line as well as how to clean the rest of the tooth surface for this hard-to-reach area.
Cleaning the gum line around the inside of lower front teeth
It can be pretty tricky to use the Bass Brushing Technique on this surface. Unless you have a really wide dental arch (if so, lucky you), it can be tough to get your Bass toothbrush to lay at the correct angle.
We need to modify our technique a little. Instead of trying to fit the whole brush head horizontally into the area behind our lower front teeth, we can Bass brush this surface with just the tip of the brush.
Using just the front tip of your Bass brush, gently wiggle the bristles into the gum line along these front teeth where it’s difficult to get the whole brush head angled correctly.
Remember, Bass brushing is all about gently wiggling bristles to encourage them to slip below the gum line. This disrupts and disorganizes the not-particularly-friendly bacteria that like to colonize along and under the gum line.
We aren’t doing this specifically to remove plaque, but because we’re disrupting the thug bugs that are along and just under the gum line, we will wind up reducing plaque accumulation there as well.
Also, keep in mind that not all brushes will function well for this. Our Bass brushes are specifically designed to be used with the Bass Brushing Technique. They also work well for using these modified techniques to clean the gum line and tooth surfaces of lower front teeth.
As we discussed above, plaque (especially mature plaque) can provide a fortress where ‘thug bugs’ can increase their populations and undermine our oral health.
In our article, “Understanding the root cause of tooth decay and gum disease“, we explain how microbes ‘control the playing field’ in the mouth.
When plaque matures, the microbial balance in the mouth shifts from one that supports oral health to an environment that’s dominated and controlled by ‘thug bugs’.
So, we want to take actions that help us to balance our oral flora.
Cleaning the inner tooth surface of your lower front teeth
Now that we’ve removed the plaque from our gum line, let’s shift to cleaning the plaque off of the tooth surface.
Again, this can be tricky, especially if you have any misaligned lower front teeth.
To help give you a visual of the position we want to use with our toothbrush, do you remember when you were a kid and your parent wanted to take your temperature?
When I was a kid, my mom would stick the end of the thermometer under my tongue and tell me to gently close my mouth. My lower jaw would stick forward a bit and the thermometer would be angled up and out of my mouth.
To successfully remove plaque from the inside of the lower front teeth, the game is to angle the tip of the brush down under your tongue. Then leave the brush handle sticking up out of your mouth, just like the thermometer in my story.
Brush the length of the teeth up and down using small motions. This is exactly the opposite of the normal Bass Brushing Technique, where we go ‘back and forth’. The up-and-down motion will help the bristles to access the vertical spaces between our teeth.
Gently brush in this up-and-down way until you no longer feel plaque on these teeth when you run your tongue along them.
Speaking of your tongue, use it regularly to feel around and locate any plaque. Our tongues are great ‘plaque detectors’, and we can use them to find any spots that we’ve missed or that we haven’t brushed effectively.
Remember, it’s not a race to get your whole mouth clean in less than 2 minutes. (Here’s a link to our article, “How long should I brush my teeth?“)
Be willing to give the inside of the lower front teeth the time and attention that’s necessary to keep this area clean. Doing so will help the whole mouth to stay healthier.
Was this helpful for you? What do you do to keep your lower front teeth clean? Please share your experiences in the comments below so we can all learn from each other and improve our health together.
Helpful, related resources:
Can oil pulling help heal
Smile your way to greater health and happiness [article]
Mouth Probiotics [[free video tutorial]]
Is the key to greater oral health already in your mouth?
Tracking your saliva pH [article]
How To Brush Your Teeth To Reduce Gum Disease [[article and
Bass toothbrushes [product solution]
Understanding the root cause of tooth decay and gum disease [article]
How to balance your oral flora [article]
How long should I brush my teeth?