Do you dread the dentist? Do you walk into the office knowing there’s going to be something wrong with your teeth? If so, you may be making some mistakes when it comes to your everyday oral hygiene. You might think that it’s impossible to brush your teeth wrong, but think again: there are several mistakes you can make in the bathroom that can increase your chances for cavities and other problems when you head to the dentist. Here are some brushing mistakes to never make again.
1. Choosing the Wrong Toothbrush
Did you know that you could make a mistake without even starting to brush? Your choice of toothbrush makes a difference in your oral hygiene, and it’s important to avoid the brushes that can cause damage to your teeth or gums. When it comes to choosing a brush, the softer, the better. An ultrasoft or soft toothbrush is best—and never buy a firm bristle brush. Many people prefer an electric toothbrush, which is a great option, as long as the brushing head is also soft.
2. Skimping on Your Brushing Time
Look, almost no one enjoys brushing, and it’s very tempting to spend only a minimal amount of time in front of the bathroom mirror, but it’s best to spend 2-3 minutes at each session. That’s not a lot of time, but it can feel like an eternity when you’re ready to head for bed or get out of the house in the morning. Try putting on a short song you like, or simply setting a timer to make sure you’re spending enough time polishing your pearly whites. Most electronic toothbrushes accomplish this because they have a built in timer for 2 minutes, which takes the guess work out of brushing.
3. Using the Wrong Technique
We’re all taught how to brush our teeth, but how many of us actually follow the rules? If you want to avoid cavities, and gum disease, however, it’s time to stop using the wrong technique. If you’re like most people, you’re probably brushing back and forth in a straight line, which can harm the enamel and leave plaque and bacteria on the teeth. Instead, brush in gentle circles at a 45 degree angle to really get those teeth clean while preserving the gums and enamel. Most people also neglect the molars and the inside edge of the teeth, so pay special attention to these areas to avoid bacteria buildup.
4. Brushing at the Wrong Times
When do you brush? Ideally, you’d be brushing 2-3 times a day, at least in the morning and before you go to bed. If you brush your teeth right after meals, however, you’re making a big brushing mistake. Brushing right after meals is very abrasive for your teeth, since eating makes your mouth more acidic. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating.
5. Brushing Harshly
You don’t need to bear down on the brush to get the plaque off your teeth. Any plaque that hardens on your teeth can’t be removed by your brush alone, it must be removed during a cleaning at your dentist’s office. With this in mind, be gentle with your teeth. Brushing harshly can actually damage your tooth enamel and your gums, so be kind!
6. Using a Dirty Brush
Not much is more disgusting than a dirty brush, yet so many people keep their toothbrush much longer than they should. If you brush has been hanging around for more than 3 months or so, it’s time to chuck it in the garbage—and set your calendar for your next brush change. Don’t find yourself using a brush full of bacteria—it’s nothing but counterproductive.
7. Brushing Too Much
Not brushing enough is worse than brushing too much, but your tooth enamel can only stand up to so much pressure, and brushing too much can damage it. Limit yourself to three times a day if you’re a chronic over-brusher.
8. Not Cleaning Your Tongue
If you’re not cleaning your tongue during the brushing process, you’re leaving a lot of bacteria in your mouth that can be harmful to your teeth and gums. Think about it—if you’re spending several minutes getting plaque off your teeth, why would you leave it on your tongue? A dedicated tongue scraper, a brush with a tongue scraper, or in a pinch, even your toothbrush itself, can get rid of plaque buildup that leads to poor oral health and bad breath.
Your Oral Health is Important
It’s important to take your oral health seriously for a few reasons. First, your oral health is closely linked with your overall health, and taking care of your teeth is just one part of caring for your health. Second, brushing properly is a free way to reduce your dental bills and reduce the need for invasive procedures in the future. If you focus on how brushing properly can benefit you, you’ll have some great motivation to never make these brushing mistakes again!
Need to talk to an expert about your oral health? Drs. Gallardo and Lamas are renowned Miami periodontists with expertise in gum disease treatment, dental implants, oral surgery, and more. To schedule a consultation at our Florida office, call 305-447-1447 today!