Visiting the dentist is an important aspect of maintaining proper dental hygiene, and so is brushing your teeth—the right way. The truth is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth and chances are you’ve probably been doing it all wrong for most of your life. Don’t worry though; brushing habits can be improved. Here are nine brushing mistakes you’re probably making right now without even knowing it.
1. Using the Wrong Toothbrush for Your Mouth
Everyone’s mouth is different. Some people’s mouths are bigger and allow for more space between their teeth. Other people’s mouths are smaller and their teeth are tightly wedged together. Depending on the size and shape of your mouth, you need to find an appropriately sized toothbrush that can reach all those hard to reach parts of your oral cavity for thorough cleaning.
Also, soft-bristled toothbrushes are preferable to hard-bristled brushes because they’re gentler on your teeth and help protect your enamel from breaking down. Hard-bristled toothbrushes are harsh and can damage your delicate gum line and even scratch the surface of your teeth.
2. Forgetting to Regularly Replace Your Toothbrush
One oral health rule of thumb you’ve probably been hearing all your life is that you need to replace your toothbrush every two to three months. And this is absolutely true. The longer you use your toothbrush, the more germs and bacteria it collects. Think about it. Presuming you brush your teeth twice a day for about three months (that’s 90 days), that amounts to about 180 brushing sessions. Imagine all of the bacteria that are congregating on your toothbrush by then!
If you’re not sure how long you’ve had the same toothbrush (no one’s expecting you to count the days), another rule of thumb is to change your toothbrush whenever the bristles start fraying or losing their flexibility. Frayed bristles don’t clean as well as brand new ones.
3. Brushing in Circular Motions
This is one of those brushing techniques that was most likely drilled into your head by your parents and your dental hygienist when you were a kid. However, it’s now been proven that brushing in circular motions can actually do more harm than good. This technique has been known to push hard against the gum line, causing the gums to recede. It can even damage the surface of your teeth. It is still the most appropriate way for kids to brush.
Now, dentists are advising adult patients to very gently move the brush back and forth across the surface of their teeth and then sweep the brush away from the gums to reduce the risk of tooth and gum damage.
4. Neglecting to Brush Your Tongue
According to the rules of proper dental hygiene, brushing your teeth simply isn’t enough to maintain a healthy smile. You also need to brush your tongue. The same bacteria that live on your teeth and can cause tooth decay also remain on your tongue if you don’t clean it thoroughly.
Some toothbrushes come with a tongue scraper on the back of their heads that you can use to clean your tongue, or you can purchase one at any drugstore.
5. Not Brushing Long Enough
On average, you should be spending about two full minutes every morning and evening brushing your teeth. Unfortunately, most people only spend about 45 seconds to one minute brushing their teeth and they think this is enough. The next time you brush your teeth, try to time how long it takes you. You might be surprised to find that you’re well below the two-minute mark. And two full minutes can seem like a lifetime when you’re counting every second, so try to make it fun until you get into the habit of doing it every time you brush your teeth.
Hum the tune of a song you enjoy or set a timer to help you out. Some new brushing systems even come with a timer attached so that people can be more conscious of the time they spend brushing their teeth.
6. Not Brushing Your Teeth Often Enough
Most people brush their teeth twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening to rid their mouths of harmful bacteria. Business professionals who have client meetings throughout the day might actually end up brushing their teeth more than that to avoid embarrassing halitosis or having food stuck between their teeth. But is there a limit to how often you should brush your teeth?
Is brushing your teeth three times a day bad for your oral health? Should you brush before or after eating? Ideally, you should be brushing your teeth after each and every single meal to prevent bacteria and food particles from sticking to your tooth enamel. It’s recommended that you wait about an hour after every meal, though, because brushing your teeth immediately after eating can actually damage the enamel as well. Understandably, this isn’t possible for every lifestyle as people get busy and don’t always have time to brush their teeth during the day, so rinsing your mouth out after every meal is also a good idea.
7. Neglecting to Floss
Skipping out on flossing is probably one of the worst disservices you can do to your dental health. Yet, for some reason, thousands of Canadians tend to avoid flossing. Not flossing your teeth can lead to severe tooth decay, gum disease, and even the need to remove some of your teeth. You should be flossing at least once every night before going to bed to remove food particles and bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach.
8. Improper Toothbrush Storage
Contrary to popular belief, keeping your toothbrush on top of your bathroom sink is actually the wrong way to store it. Even if you clean it once a week, your bathroom is rife with bacteria from the sink to the toilet and the shower. Every time you flush the toilet without closing the cover, urine and feces particles are sprayed all over the place including onto your toothbrush. That’s why dentists recommend storing your toothbrush somewhere else like in your bedroom.
9. Not Visiting the Dentist Enough
It’s important to have your teeth professionally cleaned approximately every four to six months. Good dental hygiene starts at home, but that’s not enough to ward off tooth decay, periodontitis, and other serious dental ailments. A thorough dental cleaning can help keep your teeth clean and healthy, while also detecting any potential diseases early on.
At Princeview Dental Group, we pride ourselves on providing dental care to all of our patients. If you have any questions about your dental hygiene or brushing habits, please feel free to schedule an appointment today!