woman brushing teeth

For most people, brushing teeth is so second-nature that they rarely give it a second thought. In fact, many view brushing as just another routine to get through at the end of a long day instead of what it actually is: a critical aspect of maintaining good oral health. The problem with taking a lackadaisical approach to teeth brushing is that if you’re not brushing properly, you’re setting yourself up for a host of oral health problems ranging from cavities to tooth loss. Are you making any of these common toothbrushing mistakes?

The rush brush. Even those who brush their teeth two or three times a day sometimes aren’t doing enough to prevent decay. Why? They’re simply not spending enough time brushing. If you spend 30 seconds brushing your teeth before heading to bed at night, there’s no way you’ve adequately removed all of the food particles that have accumulated on your teeth throughout the day. In fact, brushing should take no less than two minutes in order to ensure maximum effectiveness. Today, many toothbrushes come with built-in timers to help you achieve this goal. You might also consider mentally dividing your mouth into four quadrants and spending about 30 seconds thoroughly brushing each quadrant. That way, every area is receiving the attention it deserves.

The wrong tools. The person brushing the teeth plays a big role in whether or not the teeth are successfully cleaned, of course, but the importance of the toothbrush itself shouldn’t be underestimated. The bottom line is that you should choose a toothbrush that you feel most comfortable with so that you’re more likely to use it often. However, there are a few important factors to consider when making your selection. For starters, soft bristle brushes are always best. Hard or stiff bristles can feel uncomfortable or even injure the gums. Additionally, size should play a role in your decision. A toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth; if you’re straining to hold your mouth open, the brush is probably too big.

The aggressive brush. If brushing your teeth two or three times a day is good, then brushing five or six times a day is even better, right? Not necessarily. In fact, overdoing it when it comes to brushing can actually damage the enamel, which is the outer shell of your tooth. Aggressive brushing can also prove detrimental to your oral health. For example, applying too much pressure while brushing can lead to gum recession. Remember: it’s important to be thorough– not aggressive– when brushing your teeth.

Poor technique. In addition to brushing too aggressively, another common toothbrushing mistake is to use large, side-to-side strokes across the teeth. Brushing up and down using smaller strokes is actually more effective. Only focusing on the front of the teeth is another common error. Often, people spend a lot of time on the front of the teeth because they’re easier to reach, but that means that plaque is neglected on the back of the teeth and in other hard-to-reach areas. So, remember to spend the same amount of time on inner and outer surfaces of the teeth and don’t neglect those back molars!

Improper storage. Where is your toothbrush sitting right now? If you’re like most people, it’s lying on your bathroom counter. Unfortunately, placing your toothbrush on the bathroom counter leaves it open to germ exposure– and particularly if it’s resting in close vicinity to the toilet. Instead of placing it on the counter, consider using a toothbrush stand. Additionally, you should never use a toothbrush cover without first letting your brush dry; wet brushes attract bacteria more easily.

Remember: proper brushing involves more than haphazardly running a toothbrush over your teeth twice a day. For more tips on ways you can improve your oral health, contact us today!