woman flossing teeth

If you’re like most people, you probably feel like you’re doing your part to take care of your oral health if you brush your teeth twice a day. If you remember to floss, that’s an added bonus. While brushing your teeth is undoubtedly one of the most important things you can do to take care of your oral health at home, countless adults are actually making several mistakes when it comes to at-home dental care. The good news is, these mistakes are easily fixable; all it takes is a solid understanding of proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Common Oral Health Mistakes

Below are some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to at-home preventative oral health care. How many of these errors are you making?

Brushing too quickly. Countless people are guilty of it: brushing as fast as they can so they can move on to the next task. The problem with that is, when you don’t brush thoroughly, you’re leaving behind plaque. Plaque– which is a sticky film that’s constantly building up on the teeth– contains millions of harmful bacteria. When it’s not removed through proper brushing and flossing, plaque can lead to tooth decay. A big part of proper brushing is simply brushing the teeth for a sufficient amount of time. But what’s sufficient? Most dentists recommend brushing for two to three minutes, but the average person typically only brushes for 30 seconds to one minute.

Brushing too forcefully. Many people assume that the only way to remove plaque is to brush with a heavy hand. That’s not the case and can actually do more harm than good. That’s because brushing aggressively can lead to sensitive teeth and gum recession. Gum recession occurs when the gums are pushed back, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. Unfortunately, those at the highest risk for damage caused by over-brushing are often those who are most diligent about their oral health.

Poor flossing technique. Flossing every day is a vital component of maintaining your oral health. However, countless adults use a poor technique when flossing, simply because they’ve never been taught how to properly floss. To effectively clean between the teeth, start with a foot of floss, and wrap the ends around your middle fingers. Then, gently work the floss between the teeth, being careful not to use a sawing motion. Instead, wrap the floss around a tooth and move the floss up and down. Repeat this technique between all of your teeth.

Using the wrong brush. With an overwhelming amount of toothbrushes occupying the oral health care aisle of your local drug store, it’s hard to know where to begin when selecting a brush. That often leads to just grabbing whatever option is closest, which is not always a good decision. What should you be looking for in a toothbrush? First thing’s first: make sure you grab a soft-bristled brush. Medium and hard-bristled brushes are more likely to lead to enamel damage and gum recession. Whether or not you choose an electric brush is a matter of personal preference; however, electric brushes are recommended for those who lack the manual dexterity to effectively brush with a traditional toothbrush. Finally, whichever brush you choose, make sure to toss it every three months or so– otherwise, it becomes a haven for bacteria like strep and staph.

Are you ready to work towards your healthiest smile? Contact Richard A. Schmidt, DDS today to get started!