Woman concerned about brushing teeth right.

You have been brushing your teeth since you were a toddler, so you should be an expert by now, right? There is mounting evidence that most people do not actually brush their teeth correctly. Brushing your teeth the right way is essential to preventing lost enamel, cavities, and gum disease.

Tooth Brushing Mistakes You Should Avoid

Are you making one or more of these tooth-brushing mistakes? If so, it may be time to “brush up” on correct oral hygiene habits.

Using the Wrong Angle

Do you have a tenancy to brush your teeth with the flat side of your toothbrush facing the tooth’s surface? This is not the best placement as it neglects the space where the tooth meets the gum. This area is highly susceptible to the growth of bacteria and debris deposits that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Instead, hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and focus on brushing the area where the teeth meet the gums. Make sure you to this at the front and back of teeth. Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth as well to make sure you get thorough coverage.

Your Tools

Using the wrong toothbrush or toothpaste can also impede your oral hygiene. There are a couple of points to consider.

Soft Bristled Toothbrush

A soft-bristled toothbrush is the best option. It may be surprising to hear this since common sense might tell you that a medium or hard-bristled brush would clean better. However, tooth enamel is fragile. Harder bristles can damage and wear away the enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to additional damage and decay.

Using an Old Brush

Make sure you change your toothbrush for a fresh new one every 3-4 months at least. Frayed bristles are not very good at cleaning your teeth and will be far less effective than newer ones. You can set a recurring reminder in your phone’s calendar to let you know when it is time to change your brush. If you forget to set a timer or aren’t sure, grab a new toothbrush as soon as you see the bristles start to fray.

The Wrong Toothpaste

Trendy charcoal or baking soda toothpaste can be abrasive to your tooth enamel. Even whitening toothpaste seems safe but can cause wear. Avoid whitening toothpaste if you notice sensitivity. Instead, talk to your dentist about safe whitening options.

The best toothpaste has the ADA seal and contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens and protects tooth enamel, so it is important to get it in your toothpaste every day.

Brushing After You Eat

Another surprising fact is that you should not brush your teeth right after you eat. While you may think it is optimal to dislodge debris as soon as possible (which is true-try swishing with water instead), brushing right after a meal can do more harm than good.

Acids in your food can weaken tooth enamel, and brushing right away can cause damage. In fact, the fluoride in your toothpaste can actually protect against the acidity in foods you eat, so brushing when you first wake up BEFORE breakfast might be the best move. Wait at least 30-60 minutes after eating your last meal of the day to brush at night.

Brushing Back and Forth

Just brushing side to side may be a tooth-brushing mistake. Instead, a varied approach is better. Making small circular motions with your toothbrush will clean more effectively than just going side to side. Tough-to-reach spots like the back surface of front teeth can be better cleaned by holding your toothbrush upright and using up and down motions.

Rinsing After You Brush

It is a common practice to rinse your mouth out with water to clean off the toothpaste, and this seems to make sense. However, skipping this step allows the fluoride in your toothpaste to work its magic. Rinsing with water will wash all that protective fluoride away too soon.

Other Mistakes

Other than brushing your teeth effectively, the most important thing you can do for your dental health is getting exams and cleanings twice per year. Schedule your visit with our office today!