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Practicing good dental habits is a crucial part of maintaining your overall health and well-being, but some brushing habits can actually do more harm than good.

Whenever you brush and floss, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing this correctly to prevent damage to your teeth and gums.

Read on to learn more about some habits that might not be great for your oral health, and what you can do to correct them.

Bad Brushing Habits: Too Much Pressure Can Cause Harm

When you brush your teeth, you might think that the harder your brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. However, these brushing habits can actually make things worse for your teeth and gums over time.

Brushing too vigorously or applying too much pressure when you brush can damage the protective enamel on your teeth, leaving them vulnerable to cavities or infection. It can also cause your gums to become inflamed, make them bleed, or just cause pain in general.

When you brush your teeth, pay close attention to how your gums feel. If they’re tender or sensitive to the touch, there is a good chance that you could be applying too much pressure with your toothbrush.

Other signs of brushing too hard include tooth pain or your teeth look darker near the gum line – an indication that the gums are receding and the dentin is exposed. To avoid these problems, simply apply less pressure and try to brush your teeth more gently moving forward.

Biting or Chewing Things You Shouldn’t

While this one isn’t a brushing habit, it’s still a common habit that many people have. If you love to chew on ice, pencils, or other hard objects, you’re putting the health of your teeth at risk.

Never try to open something using your teeth, and try not to chomp on ice cubes whenever you can avoid it. Chewing these things will eventually cause damage to your teeth and could even cause one of them to crack.

If you have fillings, chewing on hard items can cause the filling to become loose or even fall out completely. To avoid this, drink beverages with a straw and try a sugar-free gum that contains xylitol to keep those unhealthy chewing habits at bay.

For those who grind their teeth or clench their jaw, it’s important to find a way to avoid this common issue. A mouthguard that you can wear while you sleep will help to protect your teeth and keep them from grinding together.

Avoiding Visits to the Dentist

Perhaps you have a fear of the dentist, or maybe you simply haven’t made the time for an appointment. Scheduling regular cleanings are one of the most important good dental habits you can adopt.

Ideally, you should have your teeth professionally cleaned at least every six months. Not only will you get a good cleaning, but your dentist will also perform x-rays and look carefully at your teeth and gums for any signs of damage or disease.

It’s estimated that approximately 42% of Americans admit that they don’t go to their dentist as often as they should. Don’t be a statistic! Schedule an appointment to have your teeth cleaned and examined as soon as possible to keep your oral health on the right track.

When you visit the dentist on a regular basis, you’ll have a much better idea about the state of your oral health. It’s also the best way to catch any issues as soon as possible before they get out of hand so you can take steps to correct them.

Not Brushing After Meals

Another bad brushing habit is simply not brushing your teeth after you eat. When you eat food, it leaves residue behind, which will eventually wear the enamel off of your teeth and cause painful cavities.

According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth approximately 30 minutes to an hour after you eat to keep them healthy and clean. This allows time for the food you eat to be removed from your teeth before you brush them.

If you brush too soon after eating, certain ingredients like acids in orange juice or sugar in desserts will still be sitting on the surface of your teeth. Brushing immediately can spread those harmful ingredients out and onto the rest of your teeth and gums, causing more harm and good.

Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you to work, then brush about a half hour or so after lunchtime. You should do the same thing in the morning after breakfast and again after dinner or before you head to bed.

Bad Flossing Habits

Using dental floss is another part of good oral care, but you can also do harm if you don’t floss the right way. First, avoid flossing between your teeth in a saw-like motion, or else you could cut your gums.

Never re-use the same section of floss since it will already be covered in plaque and food particles. Floss gently and never use aggressive movements that can cause gum irritation and inflammation.

Finally, while flossing is important, it should never be considered a substitute for brushing your teeth. The two things should be done in conjunction to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible.

Start Good Dental Care Habits Today

Now that you know more about some bad brushing habits and oral care habits, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. Remember to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and examinations every six months for the best results.

If you’re ready for a cleaning, examination, or other dental services near Webster Groves, MO, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Tooth brushing

You brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as your dentist recommended. So you’re doing everything right, right?

Not necessarily. It’s not just the frequency of how often you brush your teeth or the brand of toothpaste you’re using between professional teeth cleanings. If you’re not brushing your teeth properly, it can be all for naught. 

Many people aren’t brushing properly, but that can be corrected with some adjustments. Here are 9 common tooth brushing mistakes to be aware of the next time you’re tending to your teeth…

1. Choosing The Wrong Bristles

If you’re trying to get plaque buildup off your teeth, you need a hard brush to scrape it, right? That’s not actually the case. 

Just because the bristles are harder, it doesn’t mean they do a better job of cleaning. In fact, the harder bristles can actually cause some damage to the structure of the tooth and hurt the gums. 

Softer bristles can bend, allowing the bristles to get under the gumline where bacteria can hide. 

2. Letting Your Brush Wear Out

You find a great toothbrush that you love. It has a comfortable handle, and you like the color of it. 

However, at some point, you will have to part with your existing brush. You will see signs of wear on the brush as the bristles start to fray, which reduces the effectiveness of the tooth brushing. 

The official recommendation is to change up your manual (and electric) brush every three months. That’s more often than the six-month visit between dentist exams

3. Not Brushing Long Enough

When you’re brushing, you might think you’re done when you’ve reached all the corners of your mouth – which is often under a minute. But that’s not actually long enough according to experts. 

The guideline is to brush for a full two minutes each time you visit the bathroom to brush your teeth. 

For kids especially, brushing for a full two minutes can be a challenge. Aside from using a timer, there are some fun songs you can play for them to help them go the distance. 

4. Brushing Too Vigorously

This harkens back to using bristles too hard: people thing “harder” will get their teeth cleaner. However, by putting too much pressure on your teeth when brushing, you might actually cause damage to the gums.

The reality is that the plaque you’re trying to remove is soft, so you can remove it by brushing gently. It’s only hard when it becomes tartar (from lack of plaque removal), which can be taken care of during a dental visit

5. Improper Brushing Patterns

There’s an old song for kids that teaches them to brush teeth “round and round.” However, while that might’ve been the advice of the day, it’s not necessarily the accepted best practice anymore. 

The “new” standard is to brush your teeth back and forth across the length of a tooth, hitting all of the surfaces. You should also be placing the brush on the teeth on a 45-degree angle near the gum line. 

When cleaning the backs of your front teeth, turn the brush vertically and massage them with the brush in gentle up-and-down strokes. 

6. Using The Wrong Toothpaste

There are many types of toothpaste out there, from those meant for sensitive teeth to those that promise to remove stains. 

Whitening kinds of toothpaste seem to be fine (professional whitening might be more effective). Those with baking soda might actually be doing harm as they’re abrasive and can damage the enamel of the tooth. 

When searching for the right toothpaste for you, pay attention to the label. It should indicate that there are a thousand (or more) parts per million of fluoride, and there should be a seal of approval from the American Dental Association on it somewhere. 

7. Not Cleaning Your Entire Mouth

When it comes to tooth brushing, you’re probably just focusing on your teeth. And rightly so. However, you shouldn’t neglect your entire oral health picture when cleaning. 

One major component of the mouth that is often overlooked is the tongue. While you can use a tongue scraper to clean it, using your toothbrush also works

The key is to have a soft-bristle brush and allow the easiest access by sticking out your tongue. Starting from the back of the tongue using gentle strokes, rinsing the excess off the brush as you go. 

Cleaning your tongue with a scraper or brush may be a way to reduce bad breath. 

While you’re at it, you can also clean your mouth’s palette and the inside of the cheeks to get rid of any debris. Cleaning your tongue and cheeks at least once a day will help you achieve a higher overall feeling of cleanliness. 

8. Brushing Right After a Meal

You might think it’s a good idea to brush away the excess right after you’ve consumed a meal, but it’s actually a mistake. 

The reason is that you will have acid in your mouth after eating, and the abrasives from brushing can add to the erosion of the teeth. You should wait at least 60 minutes to allow time for your saliva to neutralize the acid. 

In the meantime, you can chew sugarless gum or just drink some water while you wait to head to the bathroom for a brushing session. 

9. Forgetting The Final Touches

Brushing your teeth is a big part of the equation. But there’s more to it than that to maintain optimal oral health. 

First of all, you should be using floss to get at food particles that can’t be reached with a brush. The bacteria left behind could contribute to tooth decay. 

When you’ve finished that step, use a proper mouthwash that kills germs and doesn’t contain alcohol. This will get rid of any leftover bacteria churned up from brushing and flossing. 

If you don’t have mouthwash, then swish with water. 

Brush Up On Tooth Brushing 

Brushing your teeth twice a day – properly – is a key to good oral health. Follow these tooth brushing tips for the most effective cleaning. 

Combined with regular visits to the dentist, you can help prevent cavities and catch oral health issues early!

To find out more or to schedule a dental appointment, contact us today.  

Did you know that around 91% of adults have some degree of tooth decay?

Even if you’re someone who flosses and brushes every day, there are plenty of other things you could be doing that are sabotaging your oral health.

Do you want to know how you can prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems? Keep reading to learn about 10 habits you should avoid that can lead to brittle teeth.

1. Eating Too Much Sugar (Especially Sticky Foods)

We all know that eating too much sugar can lead to horrible teeth problems, but some types of sugars are more damaging than others. Chewy foods like gummies or dried fruit get stuck between your teeth and create the perfect environment for tooth decay. Although you don’t have to avoid bad foods altogether, being mindful of their risks can help you drink more water and brush your teeth to remove the food particles. 

2. Drinking Soda

Soda is a guilty pleasure for many people because we know how unhealthy it is for our teeth and our overall health. Not only is soda loaded with sugar that causes weak teeth, but it’s also highly acidic. These two factors combined make soda one of the worst drinks on the market for your teeth.

3. Acidic Foods

In addition to limiting your consumption of sweets, you also have to be careful about exposing your teeth to acid. Acid weakens tooth enamel and can even lead to demineralization.

Some acidic foods to avoid include citrus fruits, tomato sauce, and vinegar. While it’s fine to enjoy some lemonade or pizza from time to time, make sure you drink lots of water to help clean your mouth and lower the acidity.

4. Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard or Immediately After Eating

Most people worry about not brushing or flossing enough throughout the day, but did you know that you can actually be doing these activities the wrong way? If you brush or floss too vigorously, you can cause weak enamel. Enamel is our strongest defense against bacteria, so make sure you buy a soft-bristled toothbrush and wait at least 30 minutes after eating so your enamel has the chance to harden again.

5. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

One bad habit plenty of us do is clench our teeth when we’re stressed. When your jaw is carrying so much unnecessary tension, your teeth are more likely to crack. Grinding your teeth while you sleep can also cause a lot of damage, so you may need to wear a mouthguard if the problem persists.

6. Biting Things That Aren’t Food

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to open a plastic container when you don’t have scissors around. If you can’t use your muscles to rip the packing, you probably switch to using your teeth instead. While our teeth are impressive and powerful tools, using them to do anything other than chew food can cause chipping and other issues.

Another activity you should try to avoid is crunching on ice. Ice may be made of water, but its hardness puts too much strain on our teeth to break down. Nail biters should also be wary since this habit can also weaken teeth and introduce unhealthy bacteria into the mouth that’s been lingering under the fingernail.

7. Having a Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercings may look stylish, but the hard metal can wreak havoc on your teeth over time. When you move your tongue to speak, the piercing can collide with your teeth and lead to chipping. Lots of people with tongue piercings also entertain themselves by flicking the piercing around mindlessly throughout the day, which leads to more rough contact with the teeth.

8. Snacking Throughout the Day

Did you know that our mouths become highly acidic whenever we eat? Although there’s nothing we can do to stop this natural process, we can limit the amount of times we eat throughout the day. If you’re a grazer, condensing your snacking and meal times into smaller windows can limit the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to.

9. Smoking and Drinking

Have you ever noticed how thirsty you feel after drinking alcohol? That’s because alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration. When our bodies are dehydrated, our mouths can’t produce enough saliva that helps flush out unhealthy bacteria throughout the day.

Smoking is another bad habit that can lead to staining, gum disease, and even increase your risk of oral cancer.

10. Using Teeth Whitening Strips

If you want to get whiter teeth, you should never use store-bought whitening strips. Since there is no one-size-fits-all whitening treatment, most people wind up causing more harm than good by the time they’re finished whitening with bleach and other chemicals.

Visiting a dentist is the best way to brighten your smile since they’ll be able to create the perfect whitening solution that isn’t too harsh for your mouth. They can also target darker areas to create an even tone.

Do You Want to Avoid Developing Brittle Teeth?

Maintaining a healthy smile all your life can feel like a daunting chore, but the results are always worth the effort. Since oral health has a strong link to total-body health, preventing brittle teeth can help you in many other ways.

The best way you can take care of your teeth is to visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular cleanings and a checkup. If they notice the early signs of tooth decay, they can help you pinpoint the cause and help you correct the issue.

If you’re looking for excellent dental care near Webster Groves, MO, Webster Family Dental would love to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. Contact us to learn more about our services and to schedule your appointment.