As the relationship between oral and overall health is put in the spotlight more and more, people are starting to recognize how important it is to practice a good oral hygiene routine on a regular basis. Visiting your dentist is a critical piece in that routine, but the success of reaching and maintaining good oral health is largely dependent on you and how diligently you care for your teeth and gums. Whether you’re just starting to practice good dental care, or you’ve been doing it all your life, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your brushing skills to make sure you’re maximizing the benefits. Here’s a list of 9 common toothbrushing mistakes and how you can fix them (originally shared from the experts at WebMd).
- Use the right brush. Not all toothbrushes were created equal. Some are bigger than others, while others have harder bristles. Your toothbrush should feel good in your hand and mouth, and a softer brush is best. In the debate between electric and manual, the winner is actually just a personal preference. An electric toothbrush may be easier for some users, especially those with arthritis or other physical trouble, but a manual brush can just as effective.
- Make time. It is recommended to brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time, with the operative words being “at least.” You can always brush more if necessary. Most of us actually fall short of that recommendation. Some toothbrushes now offer a timer, and there are several apps available to help keep track of the time. Whatever tool you choose, be sure to at least try to hit that target.
- Too much can be a bad thing. While it’s ok to add an additional brushing session or two, over-brushing can be an issue, especially if you are a “hard” brusher. Over time, it is possible to prematurely wear down the enamel on your teeth if you overdo it. It doesn’t take a lot of force to remove plaque, so use a gentle touch.
- Work on your technique. Avoid using wide, side-to-side strokes as this can scrape your gum line. It’s best to hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and make an up-and-down motion, using short strokes. And don’t forget about the hard-to-reach spots. If you aren’t thorough, plaque can, and will, cause damage.
- Variety is the spice of life. Dentists suggest that most of us brush in the same pattern every time. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern and get lackadaisical about the process. This is a sure-fire way to forget about certain parts of your mouth. Stay aware and make sure to brush all surfaces.
- Be picky about products. Pay attention to the paste you choose. The ones that contain whitening ingredients can be harsh on teeth is used for an extended amount of time. You should consider switching between a regular fluoride toothpaste and a whitening paste on a regular basis.
- Limit acid. Energy drinks, diet soda, coffee, apple and orange juice, and hard candy all contain acid that can soften enamel. When you do indulge, try to wait half an hour after consuming before you brush. That will allow your saliva time to restore tooth enamel. If you brush too soon, you risk further damage to the enamel by brushing softened teeth.
- Pay attention to toothbrush storage. Most of us keep our brushes in the bathroom. While it’s important to let your brush air dry, storing it on a bathroom counter could expose it to germs from the toilet and sink. The best way to store your toothbrush is upright in a holder, at least 6 feet away from the toilet. Also be sure your brush isn’t touching any others as they’re stored.
- Replace regularly. Did you know that you should replace your toothbrush every three months? Frayed or broken bristles should also be a sign that a new brush is needed.