8-Oxoguanine (8-oxoG), a mutagenic DNA lesion generated under oxidative stress, differs from its precursor guanine by only two substitutions (O8 and H7). Human 8-oxoguanine glycosylase 1 (OGG1) can locate and remove 8-oxoG through extrusion and excision. To date, it remains unclear how OGG1 efficiently distinguishes 8-oxoG from a large excess of undamaged DNA bases. We recently showed that formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg), a bacterial functional analog of OGG1, can selectively facilitate eversion of oxoG by stabilizing several intermediate states, and it is intriguing whether OGG1 also employs a similar mechanism in lesion recognition. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations to explore the mechanism by which OGG1 discriminates between 8-oxoG and guanine along the base-eversion pathway. The MD results suggest an important role for kinking of the DNA by the glycosylase, which positions DNA phosphates in a way that assists lesion recognition during base eversion. The computational predictions were validated through experimental enzyme assays on phosphorothioate substrate analogs. Our simulations suggest that OGG1 distinguishes between 8-oxoG and G using their chemical dissimilarities not only at the active site but also at earlier stages during base eversion, and this mechanism is at least partially conserved in Fpg despite a lack of structural homology. The similarity also suggests that lesion recognition through multiple gating steps may be a common theme in DNA repair. Our results provide new insight into how enzymes can exploit kinetics and DNA conformational changes to probe the chemical modifications present in DNA lesions.