A beautiful smile.
It's one of your most attractive traits.
But what can destroy your teeth?
Poor dental hygiene habits.
And guess what.
Most people are not caring for their teeth properly!
Keeping your teeth in top shape requires regular visits to the dentist. However – good dental hygiene starts at home. Brushing your teeth the right way is important to maintaining healthy gums and teeth.
I asked my dentist to help me create a list of common mistakes people making while brushing teeth. We came up with these 11 common mistakes people need to avoid while brushing their teeth.
Unless you’re a dentist – you probably haven’t heard most of these mistakes before. You may have decades of experience brushing teeth with no dental issues – but I’m willing to wager you are making at least one or more of these mistakes.
#1 Using Your Toothbrush For Too Long
With consistent use (twice a day for seven days a week) – the average life of a toothbrush is about three months.
After about 200 uses – you need to switch your brush because the bristles are bound to be worn out and frayed.
Frayed or broken bristles won’t clean your mouth properly. Change your toothbrush once the bristles lose their flexibility.
After a couple of months of daily use – bacteria and food particles begin to accumulate on the toothbrush. Make sure you are changing your toothbrush every three months.
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#2. Not Brushing Your Teeth Long Enough
Two minutes is the recommended duration for a tooth brushing session.
The average person’s brushing time is ONLY 45 seconds.
Anything shorter than 2 minutes doesn’t give the fluoride in your toothpaste enough time to attach to the enamel in your tooth enamel.
When I switched to the SmartClean – a powerful sonic toothbrush with a timer – I was surprised at how long the two minutes felt the first time I timed myself.
Obviously, I had been brushing my teeth for less than the recommended two minutes.
We are routinely missing out on clean teeth by cutting short our brushing time. Often – parts of the mouth get neglected. You may have pearly whites in the front – but what about the sides of the teeth or those in the back of your mouth?
I recommend electronic toothbrushes with timers to help you go the distance. If you don't have a timer, use a stopwatch or your phone. Or hum the tune of a song that lasts for two minutes.
Use what you can to ensure you brush your teeth for two minutes.
#3 Rinsing Your Mouth With Water After Brushing Teeth
Yes – don’t rinse your mouth with water after brushing your teeth.
You can spit the toothpaste out, but the moment water enters the mix – it cuts down the efficiency of the fluoride from your toothpaste.
Some of you will want to rinse your mouth out of habit. Use a mouthwash or mouth rinse that contains fluoride instead of water. Rinse, gargle, spit out the mouthwash and that should be enough. But don’t use water.
Wait at least half an hour after brushing your teeth to drink water or consume beverages.
#4 Storing Your Toothbrush In The Bathroom
We are all probably guilty of making this mistake.
I recently read a study that talked about how more than half of the toothbrushes in households have bits of human feces on them.
How did it get there?
Because you store it in your bathroom. When you flush your toilet – the contents of your toilet bowl are sprayed in all directions.
This is all the more relevant if you share your bathroom with others – especially with kids around the house. Putting a lid on your toothbrush helps reduce this issue.
Consider storing your toothbrush someplace other than your bathroom – like on your nightstand or inside your medicine cabinet.
This data forced me to consider using an electronic toothbrush with a cleaning system. The electric toothbrush I mentioned earlier comes with a base station that gives the brush a complete clean and gets rid of germs.
Oh, and don’t forget to close the lid on your toilet seat before flushing.
#5 Not Using Dental Floss
If you don't already – make it a habit to start flossing daily. Flossing is required at least once a day to remove plaque between your teeth, where your toothbrush doesn't reach. Plaque that is not removed through brushing and flossing turns into hard calcified deposits on your teeth.
Set up a system so that you're getting into those difficult areas between your teeth – a haven for bacteria thriving on food bits. I always floss at the end of the day.
The hardest part is getting started. Aim to floss at least one tooth. Once you get going with one – it's easier to floss the rest.
Individual flossing wires work better for me than wrapping the long bits of flossing cord around my fingers.
#6 You’re Not Cleaning Your Tongue
After brushing your teeth – clean your tongue to prevent bad breath and remove bacteria.
A tongue cleaner scrapes the residual bacteria off your tongue. If you don't want to do that – get a toothbrush that has a tongue scraper on the opposite side.
You can also just use the bristles of your brush to clean your tongue after brushing your teeth. It’s not as good as a tongue scraper but will get the job done.
It's important to clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth
#7 Using A Hard Bristle Toothbrush
If the bristles are too stiff – they can hurt your gums.
Go for soft or extra-soft bristles. All you need is a brush to dislodge food particles that are stuck in between your teeth. You’re not looking to shine them to a buff.
Brushes with medium or hard bristles used with some force can remove the protective enamel coating your teeth. This results in sensitive teeth and gums that hurt when you drink something cold.
#8 Using Incorrect Brushing Technique And Motion
The correct way to brush your teeth is in circles – don't go back and forth. Circular motions are more gentle and effective at cleaning the gaps between the teeth.
The toothbrush should make contact with both the teeth and the gumline. Use a lighter touch, don’t press down too hard. Wide side-to-side strokes can scrape the soft tissue lining between your teeth and gums.
Improve your oral hygiene by tilting your brush vertically behind the front and bottom teeth and use gentle rolling strokes using just the front half of the brush.
Avoid brushing so hard that the bristles bend on your teeth.
#9 Brushing Teeth At The Wrong Angle
You should always hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and make short circular strokes. That's the angle for the most effective clean.
Pointing the bristles at this angle guarantees superior cleaning beneath and above the gum line. Use the center row of bristles to clean between be the teeth and gums. Cleaning the gumline correctly avoids discoloration and more importantly – cavities and gum diseases.
This is the reason why you'll see some toothbrushes with angled bristles.
#10 Not Changing Your Teeth Brushing Routine
Brushing teeth is something we do on autopilot. We end up brushing the same areas and by habit – forget some other.
Change things up by starting from a different area and following an irregular pattern. It will stop you from getting lazy by the time you get to the last bit of your brushing routine.
The advantage of using an electric toothbrush is that you just have to guide it and it does a better job of reaching those hard-to-reach places in your mouth with less effort.
#11 Brushing Teeth More Than Twice A Day
There is no need to brush your teeth more than two times a day. Some people think it’s okay to brush three or four times a day – usually after every meal.
My dentist disagrees. Brushing more than two times a day can actually damage your gums and erodes the enamel on your teeth and that's not something that you want.
How Long Should You Wait After A Meal To Brush Your Teeth?
Most people don't wait after eating an acidic meal to brush their teeth. After eating – the pH levels in the mouth drop and your saliva has a higher acid content. Brushing your teeth can rub these acids deeper into the enamel of your teeth. You need to wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to brush your teeth.
It takes about three weeks to learn a new habit. Include one change to your teeth-brushing routine every week. You'll notice that your mouth feels fresher. Regular visits to the dentist and avoiding these teeth-brushing mistakes will ensure the long-term protection of your gums.
Curious as to the various ways you can whiten your teeth? Click here to discover 10 ways to whiten your teeth without damaging them!
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