Whether it’s doing it not often enough, or with the wrong technique we all seem to make at least a few toothbrushing mistakes. Luckily, most of these more common mistakes are fairly easy to change and when corrected, can do wonders for your overall oral health.
The top ten toothbrushing mistakes that we all make in some way, shape or form are:
- Using the Wrong Toothbrush – A toothbrush should fit your mouth and hands properly just as you need the right size glove for your hand. The brush head should not feel too large or too small for your mouth. If you are really having to open your mouth wide to fit your brush head in then it’s probably too large of a brush for you. Also, the handle should fit your hand much like the feel of holding a fork. The more comfortable you are with your toothbrush the more pleasant you will find brushing and therefore the more likely you will be to do it consistently. As far as whether you should get an electric of manual toothbrush, it really just depends on your preference. A manual toothbrush if used properly will do just as effective a job as an electric and visa versa.
- Picking the Wrong Bristle – Buying a brush with too stiff of a bristle can eventually lead to gum irritation, this is why the ADA recommends a soft bristle brush. The bristles should be stiff enough to remove plaque but soft enough to not cause gum irritation while doing so. Beware of “natural” bristle toothbrushes usually made of animal hair, these can be too soft for their own good sometimes.
- Not Brushing Often or Long Enough – It is recommended to brush your teeth AT LEAST twice a day for 2-3 minutes. Unfortunately, most of us fall short of both of these. Try doing something else while you brush so that the time will go by faster.
- Brushing Too Often or Too Hard – Brushing your teeth more than say 4 times a day can actually start being a negative thing for your teeth and gums. Excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth to irritation, and that could in turn irritate the gums. Brushing vigorously can also erode tooth enamel. The trick is to brush very gently for two to three minutes.
- Brushing Incorrectly – Most people make the mistake of brushing in long horizontal strokes. This can lead to not only a poor job of removing plaque and bacteria in your mouth, but can also cause gum irritation when done along the gum line. Instead, what you want to do is to brush horizontally or in a circular motion with the bristles facing a 45 degree angle towards your gum line. Also be sure to brush not just the outside of your teeth, but the inside and your tongue as well.
- Starting Brushing in the Same Place Every Time – What tends to happen when brushing is that we tend to get a little lazy with our brushing towards the second half of brushing. To avoid this try starting in a different area of your mouth each time.
- Missing Inner Tooth Surfaces – The most common place that people miss when brushing their teeth is the inner part of the teeth. These areas can then become a bacterial breeding ground seriously jeopardizing your oral health. The most common area missed is the inner part of your lower front teeth.
- Not Rinsing your Toothbrush Well Enough – What happens if you don’t rinse out your brush well enough after brushing is that the next time you brush you will be putting that old bacteria you cleaned out last time right back in your mouth. So rinse your brush thoroughly each time after you brush. Also be sure to shake out the excess moisture once you’re done.
- Not Changing your Brush Out Often Enough – Much like how a saw needs to be sharpened to continue to work at maximum effectiveness, a toothbrush’s bristles also need to be replaced in order to be as effective as possible. It’s recommended that a toothbrush or brush head be replaced every 3-4 months. However, it’s more important to pay attention to how your bristles look instead of holding to a strict timeframe. When your bristles begin to look worn out and frayed, then it’s time for a new brush. Many toothbrushes have some sort of indicator now to tell you when your brush needs to be trashed, in that case just keep an eye on your indicator in order to know when a replacement is necessary.