While most of us have been brushing our teeth since we were only a few years old, most of us are doing it wrong. The truth is that while brushing your teeth is such an ingrained habit, most of us are in serious need of a tooth brushing brush up when it comes to technique. These bad habits can lead to cavities and gum disease. Here are a few tips to help you brush up on your tooth brushing skills.
Mistake No. 1: Not Using the Right Toothbrush
Most people simply choose a toothbrush based on price or name brand, but most don’t consider the size of their mouths when picking a toothbrush. You shouldn’t have to strain to open your mouth in order to accommodate your toothbrush. If you are, you are using a toothbrush that is too big. So, consider the size of your mouth when choosing a brush. The comfortable the brush is, the more likely you are to use it, which is the number one goal of any dentist.
Next, you need to consider which one is better for you: Electric or manual?
It’s an individual preference, however, if you are someone who doesn’t put out a lot of effort to brush your teeth, definitely choose the electric version. However, if you are vigorous brusher, then a manual brush work just fine.
Mistake No. 2: Not Picking the Right Bristles
Do the shape and angle of the bristles of your toothbrush really matter? Most dentists say no. It’s more about the way you brush your teeth rather than the way the way the bristles line up in the brush that matter. However, the same doesn’t hold true for the stiffness of your bristles. You should choose bristles that are just stiff enough to remove plaque but don’t harm your gums and other soft tissues of the mouth. The ADA recommends using a soft bristled brush at all times. Stiffer bristles will harm soft tissues and your teeth and that damage cannot be reversed. Also, choose synthetic bristles over natural to prevent bacterial growth.
Mistake No. 3: Not Brushing Often Enough or Long Enough
While you think you are brushing your teeth enough by hitting them with a brush in the morning and before bed, most dentists recommend you brush three times a day. This will prevent bacterial plaque from building up and causing tartar buildup, increasing your risk for painful inflammation and other problems. Additionally, you should brush for at least two minutes, however three is recommended. In order to do this properly, divide your mouth up into sections and focus on cleaning each section for a segment of those three minutes to ensure a thorough cleaning.
Mistake No. 4: Brushing Too Often or Too Hard
When you brush your teeth, you should never apply more pressure that it takes to actually touch the brush to the surface of your teeth. And, while most of us are guilty of not brushing enough, some are causing damage by brushing too often. By brushing too hard and too often, you are actually irritating your teeth and gums and creating painful irritation. This can also erode enamel, which can’t be replaced. Instead, avoid these problems by brushing three times a day, very gently, and for three minutes every day.
Mistake No. 5: Not Brushing Correctly
When we brush, many of us subscribe to the long, sloppy, horizontal strokes that run the brush along the gumline. However, this can cause abrasions and lead to infection. Rather than sanding your gums and teeth with your tooth brush, angle the brush at a 45 degree angle and use short, vertical strokes to clean your teeth without causing damage. Make sure that you clean both the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth using this same motion as well as your tongue.
Mistake No. 6: Starting in the Same Place Each Time
While you might not think it would matter, by starting in the same place every time you brush your teeth, you actually clean the same sections of your mouth over and over while neglecting other sections. Start in different areas to ensure a thorough cleaning.
Mistake No. 7: Skipping Inner Tooth Surfaces
This one is a no-brainer. However, many people simply forget to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth. Even though you can’t see it, plaque builds up on these surfaces as well as on the outside and it’s important to remove it. It’s important to concentrate on the area along the inside of the lower teeth as this is the most commonly missed area.
Mistake No. 8: Not Following Up With a Rinse
There is bacteria on the plaque that forms on your teeth. This is what you are removing when you brush your teeth. However, If you don’t rinse your mouth and your toothbrush after every brush, then the bacteria will simply remain and grow. This means that you aren’t completely removing the bacteria when you brush and you are reintroducing bacteria into your mouth that is living on your toothbrush. Rinse your mouth and your toothbrush after every brushing to ensure a fresh start every time you brush.
Mistake No. 9: Not Letting the Toothbrush Dry
In addition, if you don’t let your toothbrush dry after every brushing then it will harbor bacteria, which you will put back into your mouth the next time you brush. So, improve the health of your toothbrush and shake it out before you put it away so that it has a better chance of drying between brushing.
Mistake No. 10: Not Changing the Toothbrush Often Enough
Most dentists recommend that you get a new toothbrush at least every three months or whenever it begins to look frayed and worn. A visual inspection is the best way to ensure that you are replacing your brush often enough, but never let it go longer than three months to ensure optimal performance. The American Dental Association recommends getting a new brush every three or four months, or even sooner if the bristles look frayed.