Brushing your teeth seems pretty simple, right? As easy as it might seem, very few people brush their teeth as well as they should, putting them at a higher risk for oral health concerns, and may even lead to mental health complications (link to 2/7/2020 blog post). To clear the mystery around taking care of your pearly whites, here are the top 8 mistakes that you make when brushing your teeth.
1. Choosing the wrong brush
If you’re like most people, you probably just use whatever toothbrush the dentist gave you at your last checkup or buy one from a local supermarket. This works for some people, but not for everyone. Depending on the size of your mouth, different brushes may work better for you. For example, if you have a smaller mouth you’ll find that brushes with smaller heads make it easier to reach those hard to reach places such as the inside of your teeth.
Two things that you should look for when buying any toothbrush are soft bristles, and the American Dental Association seal of approval. It’s important that you use a brush with soft bristles, because it allows them to bend more and clean underneath your gums. The American Dental Association seal of approval is also something to look for, because it means that the product has been tested and approved as both safe and effective.
Bonus tip: make sure that you get a new brush when the bristles begin to fray, or about every 3 to 4 months.
2. You brush too hard, for not enough time
This is an especially easy mistake to make, because many people think that the harder you scrub your teeth, the cleaner they’ll get. While this is true with things like a kitchen counter or cutting board, it’s not the case with your teeth. Plaque is loose and soft on your teeth, so a gentle brushing is all it takes to remove it. Aggressive brushing also makes it harder to brush for the recommended 2 minutes (30 seconds per quadrant), because you experience far more discomfort.
Bonus tip: If you brush your teeth too hard, try brushing with your non-dominant hand instead. Also, set a timer or get an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer to make sure that you get those full 2 minutes in!
3. You totally aren’t flossing
Don’t worry though, you’re not alone. According to a survey, around 27% of adults in the US lie to their dentists about how often they brush. More than that, the study also found that nearly 14% of adults would rather scrub their toilet than floss their teeth. This means that 1-in-4 adults aren’t cleaning the plaque from between their teeth, creating the perfect conditions for calcified deposits and tartar buildup.
Bonus tip: If you’re having a hard time flossing your teeth, try using a floss pick. These are easier to use for most patients and are just as effective as regular floss.
4. You rinse with water
Rinsing your mouth with water after brushing is never a good idea, because it reduces the effectiveness of the fluoride in your toothpaste. Instead of rinsing with water, we recommend using a mouthwash that contains fluoride. This will help strengthen your teeth and reduce your risk of tooth decay.
Bonus tip: If you’re hesitant to use mouthwash because of the “burning” feeling that it causes, try one that’s alcohol free. These won’t burn at all!
5. You only brushed the front of your teeth!
This is an easy mistake to make, especially if you’re brushing after a long day and just want to get to bed. It’s very important to brush the inside of your teeth, or the side that faces your tongue. Failing to brush behind your teeth will not only lead to a buildup or plaque and tartar, inflammation, or worse, infection.
Bonus tip: If you’re having trouble brushing the back of your teeth, try holding your brush at a 45-degree angle.
6. You didn’t brush along your gumline
This is something that so many of us fail to do, because it can cause discomfort if you haven’t been doing it regularly. The small strip of gum tissue around the base of your tooth is a hotspot for bacteria, so it’s very important to brush along it regularly. Remember that soft bristles are the best way to make sure that you’re getting underneath the gum, so be sure to get a toothbrush with soft bristles.
Bonus tip: brush your teeth in a circular, up-and-down motion instead of brushing side to side. This will help you reach a larger surface area on your teeth and make it easier to get underneath the gum.
7. Brush that tongue!
Last but not least, brushing your tongue is a very important step in brushing your teeth. By brushing your tongue, you remove bacteria that causes infection and bad breath. While you can brush your tongue with the bristles of your toothbrush, we recommend getting a brush with a tongue scraper on the opposite side.
Bonus tip: Tongue scrapers can be bought for less than $10 at most supermarkets, and often work better than the ones that are built into most toothbrushes. Pick one up for ultra-fresh breath!
There you have it, 8 mistakes that almost everyone makes when they brush their teeth! Don’t worry if you’re guilty of a few of these – everybody makes mistakes! By following some of the tips in this post, you’ll be well on your way to a happier, healthier smile!