Common Toothbrushing MistakesThe majority of people aren’t getting the full benefits of brushing their teeth because they are making mistakes that let bacteria hide, multiple, and cause tooth decay. To make sure you’re getting all the benefits from brushing your teeth, take a look at the common tooth brushing mistakes below to see if any apply to you.

1. Keeping Your Toothbrush for Too Long

The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months. A sign you’ve kept your toothbrush for too long is if it has frayed and broken bristles. Once your toothbrush is frayed/broken it won’t do its job properly and will miss a lot of plaque and bacteria. To ensure your toothbrush is working properly follow the guidelines and change your toothbrush every 3-4 months.

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2. Not Brushing Long Enough

The majority of people do not brush long enough. Most are in a rush to head to work or go to bed and end up speeding through brushing. Each time you brush your teeth you want to brush for a full 2 minutes. This gives you enough time to reach all areas of your teeth and gum without overbrushing. Many people use an egg timer or the timer on their phone to make sure they brush for a full 2 minutes. If you don’t have access to a timer try singing the ABC’s 3 times while brushing, the song repeated 3 times is right around 2 minutes.

3. Using The Wrong Kind Of Toothbrush

Most Americans use medium or hard bristle toothbrushes because they think they clean better than soft bristle brushes. Surprisingly, the opposite is actually true. Soft bristle brushes are the best for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. This is because soft bristles are able to sweep below the gum line removing plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Next time you’re at the store skip the medium and hard bristles and pick up a soft bristle toothbrush.

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4. Brushing Too Hard

Tooth brushing shouldn’t consist of scrubbing your teeth as fast and hard as you can. Brushing too hard can do more harm than good. Hard brushing can wear away the enamel of the tooth causing tooth sensitivity and an increased risk of cavities. A common sign you’re brushing too hard is that your toothbrush bristles are bent or frayed.

Instead of scrubbing try to gently massage your teeth and gums. This will remove the plaque and bacteria without wearing down the enamel of your teeth.

5. Holding Your Toothbrush Wrong

The angle at which you hold your toothbrush makes a big difference in the health of your gums. You should hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. This allows the bristles to remove plaque and bacteria that builds up along and slightly under the gum line. A simple tip to make sure your brushing at a 45-degree angle is to keep your elbow as close to your side as possible. This forces your toothbrush into a 45-degree angle.

6. Forgetting to Brush Your Tongue

Whether it’s to fight bad breath or for good dental health, brushing your tongue is a very important step that many people skip when brushing their teeth. Your tongue is covered with bacteria that contributes to tooth decay and can affect your overall health. These bacteria form a bio-film on your tongue that can not be removed by rinsing alone. While brushing your teeth make sure to brush your tongue back and forth and side to side in order to remove this bio-film and the bacteria that hides under it.

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7. Brushing Right After Eating or Drinking

Many people rush to brush their teeth right after eating or drinking thinking that getting the food particles out of their teeth as soon as possible will lead to better oral health. However, brushing your teeth too quickly after eating and drinking can actually be harmful. If you’ve ate or drank anything that contains acid such as, citrus fruits, tomatoes, soda, or coffee, brushing your teeth directly after will spread the acid around and rub it into your tooth enamel. This weakens the enamel and can lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities. Instead, wait about 60 minutes after you eat or drink to brush your teeth. This gives time for your saliva to neutralize the acids from the food or drink.

8. Rinsing with Water After Brushing

Most toothpastes contain fluoride to strengthen the enamel of your teeth preventing cavities and tooth decay. The fluoride in toothpaste coats your teeth and takes time to work. If you rinse your mouth out with water right after brushing you are rinsing off the fluoride and not receiving the benefits it provides (stronger teeth, less cavities & decay). If you must rinse after brushing your teeth choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride to rinse with.

If you’ve been making these common tooth brushing mistakes make sure to schedule a cleaning with your dentist soon as you may have a good amount of plaque buildup. And now that you know the 8 Common Tooth brushing mistakes you can take steps to avoid them in the future and improve your oral health.