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.