Out of all of the parts of your day, brushing your teeth seems like it should be one of the easiest. After all, you’ve been doing it since you were a little kid, and it requires almost no skills, right? Unfortunately, it is actually harder than it looks to brush your teeth effectively, but watching out for these common mistakes will help you prevent decay, and gum disease and over brushing with a few simple adjustments to your technique.
Mistake #1: Not Brushing Long Enough
According to the American Dental Association, it is best to brush your teeth for a full two minutes. Yet, most people tend to overestimate how long they brush their teeth.
Since it can be hard to tell how long two minutes really is, try setting a timer. You can also find electric rechargeable toothbrushes that beep when two minutes are up, which are a favorite among kids and adults alike.
Mistake #2: Brushing Too Hard
Ambitious people often go to town on their teeth, yet the additional pressure is destructive. The purpose of tooth brushing is to remove plaque, which is soft and responds to gentle strokes from a soft-bristled brush. Use a short vibratory or small circular stroke, not a long scrub.
Over time, brushing too hard can lead to gum recession, which can cause teeth to become sensitive to heat and cold. Those exposed roots will also be more susceptible to decay.
Mistake #3: Using Too Much Abrasive Toothpaste
Too much abrasive toothpaste can wear out the enamel and dentin of the teeth very rapidly. Tooth paste commercials / advertisements often show a large swirl of their glittering product on a toothbrush. Actually only a pea sized amount should be used.
Mistake #4: Using the Wrong Angle
The way you hold your toothbrush also plays a role in how well you can remove plaque below the gum line. Instead of holding your brush straight across your teeth, hold it at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line. Make sure to adjust it so that it goes up as you do your top teeth and down while you do your lower ones.
This will allow the bristles to slip just beneath the gum line as you brush. There is one exception to this rule, however. If you use an electric sonic toothbrush, then continue to hold it straight since they are designed to use this way.
Mistake #5: Choosing Brushes with Hard Bristles
Today, grocery stores and pharmacies are stocking fewer toothbrushes with hard bristles, and it’s for a good reason. While it may seem as if a hard bristled brush would be more effective, they are just too rough on your gums and enamel.
Soft-bristled brushes have thinner fibers that can reach more easily between the teeth and under the gum line. Brushing with hard bristles can actually cause abrasions to the enamel that can lead to tooth sensitivity.
Mistake #6: Your Brush is Too Big
Unless you have a large mouth, you may be using a toothbrush with too big of a head. This can cause you to miss those hard-to-reach spaces such as your molars.
Instead, switch to a compact toothbrush that will allow you to access every part of your mouth.
Mistake #7: Forgetting to Replace Your Toothbrush
If there is one thing you should splurge on, it is your toothbrush. Over time, all of that brushing causes the bristles to become splayed and bent, which means they will no longer point in the correct direction when you brush with a 45-degree angle.
Ideally, you should replace your toothbrush every three months regardless of whether or not it looks like it needs it. You might time it to the change of seasons as a reminder.
Mistake #8: Skipping a Bedtime Brush
It happens. Life gets busy, and you just want to hit the bed. While skipping your nightly tooth brushing routine might seem like no big deal when it only happens on occasion, the truth is that you could be setting yourself up for some serious problems.
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily can prevent the majority of all cases of dental decay and gum disease. Brushing your teeth at night will also benefit more than just your dental health.
It has been found that there is a link between poor oral hygiene and heart disease. Staying on top of your checkups and brushing your teeth before bed are the best ways to prevent more serious problems from developing.
Mistake #9: You View Flossing as Optional
If you’ve had the same little container of floss forever, then know you are not alone. In 2014, Delta Dental conducted a survey that revealed only 41% of Americans made the effort to floss their teeth every day.
Yet, skipping this vital part of your oral hygiene routine can mean serious problems since toothbrushes can only reach a little bit of the plaque between the teeth. If you are one of those people who finds flossing awkward, you can try using a bristled dental pick or electronic flosser. A water pik might be helpful, though it is not a substitute for proper flossing. Perfecting your tooth brushing habit may require making a few adjustments, but the hard work will pay off when you get the all clear at your next dental visit. Finally, keep in mind that your dentist or hygienist is always willing to demonstrate the proper way to brush your teeth, so keep at it, and enjoy knowing that you are doing your very best to maintain proper oral hygiene.