“I Know How To Brush My Teeth.”
You might think you’re doing everything right. After all, brushing your teeth isn’t exactly hard. What you don’t know is, unless you’ve been shown the proper way to brush– you’re probably doing it wrong. In fact, most people aren’t caring for their teeth properly.
Are you making any of the following mistakes?
Brushing too hard.
Brushing too hard is something a lot of people are guilty of. When it comes to your teeth, rough is not better. A soft massage of the gums and teeth is enough to effectively clean them without damaging your enamel.
Brushing too long/too frequent.
Just like brushing too hard, you also don’t want to overdo the time you spend on cleaning your teeth. You should only brush twice a day, for two minutes. Doing it any more frequent than that will harm your teeth and wear away the enamel.
Side note: this does not apply if you have braces. They require more frequent cleaning.
Not brushing long enough.
On the flip side, make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Research shows the average time people spend brushing their teeth is only 45 seconds. Not enough! Anything shorter than that won’t give the fluoride in your toothpaste enough time to attach to the enamel on your teeth.
Not replacing your toothbrush.
If you’re healthy, every three months– or 200 uses, is a good time frame to replace your brush. However, if you’re sick, it needs to be replaced as soon as you’re feeling well again. If not, your toothbrush can actually reinfect you at a later date.
Also, remember the phrase “if it starts to fray, throw it away”. If this occurs before your three months is up, replace your brush right away. Frayed bristles won’t clean your mouth properly.
Always have a few back up brushes stashed away for when that time comes.
Forgetting to clean your tongue.
Your tongue is not something you should be ignoring when you brush your teeth. In fact, you should reprogram your brain to think of brushing your teeth as actually brushing your teeth, tongue and gums. All three need to be cleaned for optimal oral health.
Your tongue is a virtual petri dish for germs. If you don’t clean it, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Expect bad breath, and bacteria build up. We recommend a tongue scraper if your brush tickles your tongue, or you don’t like the feeling.
Using the wrong technique.
The correct way to brush your teeth is in circles, and not back and forth. A circular motion is more gentle and effective at cleaning your teeth.
Side to side wide strokes can scrape the soft tissue lining between your teeth and gums, causing them harm.
Finally, be sure to tilt your brush at a 45-degree angle and brush close to the gum.
Flossing after brushing.
Lots of people make this mistake. You brush your teeth and then you floss. So, what’s the problem? You’re doing it in the wrong order. Always floss before you brush. If you don’t, you risk leaving leftover particles of food in your mouth. In addition, flossing before brushing exposes areas that need the fluoride in your toothpaste.
If you’d like us to show you the proper way to brush and floss, next time you’re in our office, just ask and we’ll be glad to demonstrate.
If you change your dental hygiene habits, we promise you’ll notice a difference. You’ll see your teeth will be stronger and healthier than ever before.
Most importantly, don’t forget to schedule regular cleanings with us every six months.
Dr. Randall Burba is an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry accredited dentist, practicing in Salem, Massachusetts. He considers himself an artist–with teeth and beyond! He often paints, draws and has a passion for woodworking.