Proper dental hygiene and professional dental care are the cornerstones of quality oral health. Even if you have a top-notch dental care team, you can’t achieve a truly healthy smile without a top-notch at-home dental hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing your teeth are the cornerstones of dental hygiene and, today, Livonia, MI dentist Dr. James Stewart wants to discuss the most common brushing mistakes and how to remedy them.
Top 10 Toothbrushing Mistakes
- Choosing the wrong toothbrush: Of course, the “right” toothbrush is all relative, but the best way to choose the right toothbrush for you is to consider the size of your mouth and your unique dental needs. Don’t choose a brush that causes you to strain your mouth while brushing. Also, make sure the handle is comfortable in your hand and that you follow your personal preference when deciding between a manual and an electric toothbrush.
- Choosing the wrong bristles: Although the cleanliness of your teeth is more related to your brushing technique than the type of bristles on your toothbrush, choosing a brush with the right bristles is important to your overall oral health. A brush with stiff or coarse bristles, for example, can aggravate gum tissue. In most cases, the American Dental Association recommends soft-bristled brushes.
- Brushing infrequently or not long enough: Dr. Stewart and the ADA recommend brushing your teeth at least twice each day—once in the morning and once before bed—and for at least two minutes each time. Three minutes is even better.
- Brushing too often or too hard: On the same note, brushing your teeth too often and/or too vigorously can lead to enamel erosion, which can cause tooth sensitivity and make your teeth more susceptible to staining and decay.
- Brushing incorrectly: The best way to brush your teeth is to place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brush in short strokes and/or a circular motion. Be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth, as well as the roof and floor of your mouth, your cheeks, and your tongue.
- Starting in the same place each time: It’s best to vary where you start brushing each and every time you brush your teeth. This protects one area of your mouth from falling victim to “lazy” brushing.
- Skipping inner tooth surfaces: To ensure the overall cleanliness of your teeth, it’s important to brush the inner, outer, and biting surface of every tooth. Skipping any part of the brushing process will allow plaque—and, eventually, decay and infection—to build up in that area.
- Failing to follow up with a rinse: You should floss your teeth before you brush, and you should rinse your mouth with a fluoridated oral rinse once you finish brushing. Rinsing your mouth helps to prevent bacteria form colonizing in your oral cavity, especially during the night as you sleep.
- Using a consistently moist toothbrush: It’s important to let your toothbrush properly dry between uses to avoid bacteria buildup. The best way to ensure your brush dries properly is to let it air dry in a clean, dry, room-temperature environment.
- Failing to change the toothbrush regularly: It’s always smart to buy a new toothbrush after you overcome an illness or infection, but it’s also wise to change your toothbrush every three to four month (or sooner if the bristles begin to fray).