Toothbrush Mistakes: 4 Reasons To Put Bad Brushing Habits To Rest

shutterstock_96944639Most of us have been brushing our teeth for so long that it’s second nature. But proper brushing may not be as simple as you think. Here are four common toothbrush mistakes you should avoid in order to prevent cavities and other serious oral health issues.

1. You’re using the wrong toothbrush.

If you want to brush your teeth correctly, then you must first start with the right tool. Toothbrushes today come in all shapes and sizes, but if you aren’t using the right one for your teeth, you may be causing more harm than good. Stiff, hard bristles can damage your gums, and a toothbrush that is too big can’t clean hard-to-reach back teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a soft-bristled brush with a small head that allows you to easily reach all surfaces of the mouth. Once you’ve selected the right toothbrush for the job, make sure you replace it at least every three months or when the bristles have become frayed. You should also replace your toothbrush following a cold or the flu to avoid recontamination.

2. You’re brushing too hard.

One misconception about tooth brushing is that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. But the truth is that brushing with too much force can wear away the tooth’s protective enamel and irritate the gums by exposing the sensitive root area. Instead, focus on brushing gently and thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush to effectively remove plaque and debris from your teeth and along the gum line. As a general rule, if the bristles on your brush are flattening or fraying, you are applying too much pressure when you brush.

3. You’re not brushing long enough or often enough.

In order for brushing to benefit your teeth and gums, the ADA recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for a full two minutes. If you don’t brush long enough, there’s a good chance you are leaving behind food and bacteria on your teeth that can cause decay and gum disease. If you’re having trouble adhering to the two-minute rule, consider setting a timer or listening to a song to ensure you pay attention to all areas of your mouth.

4. You’re not brushing correctly.

Effective tooth brushing also requires proper technique. A back-and-forth motion should be avoided as it can cause gums to recede. Instead, hold your brush against your gum line at a 45-degree angle and use short, gentle strokes to thoroughly clean all surfaces of each tooth. Finally, don’t forget to floss daily — it’s just as important as brushing. As you can see, brushing your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple improvements to your brushing regimen combined with regular visits to your dentist can have a positive and lasting impact on the health of your teeth and gums.

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