Do you find yourself in the dentist’s chair more often than you’d like? Even those of us with a pain-free mouth and a bright smile may not be brushing our teeth in the optimal way. Here are some of the mistakes many of us make—often with the best of intentions—while brushing our teeth and how to correct them.
Brushing Mistake #1: Brushing too Quickly
During the morning rush, your quest to get out the door as soon as possible (or your race to hit the pillow at night) may be short-changing your dental health.
Take the time to brush your teeth properly and thoroughly—most dentists recommend 2 to 3 minutes of brushing each time you brush your teeth (most people brush their teeth only for 40 seconds). Rather than setting a timer, a fun way to keep track of the time you take to brush is to play a short song on the radio (and some commercially available toothbrushes even have a speaker built in to play the song in your head as you brush!).
Brushing Mistake #2: Brushing too Hard
Although you want to be thorough and use sufficient pressure when brushing your teeth in order to effectively clean them, brushing too hard is a well-intentioned faux pas.
Brushing your teeth too hard can injure gums and deplete tooth enamel, which lead to worsened oral health over time. A mouth full of little cuts from a too-rough brushing leaves itself open to harmful bacteria, which could actually lead to an oral infection and even an abscessed tooth.
Brushing Mistake 3: Not Brushing Often Enough
One thing that sometimes gets neglected in our busy lives is our brushing habits. We figure brushing once per day when we wake up is fine. However, bacteria can invade and take over our mouths within the span of a day, and many dentists suggest brushing at least two times per day—once when you wake up and again before bed—and ideally, after meals, as well.
Frequent brushing can sweep away plaque and bacteria and keep your mouth fresh and clean round-the-clock.
Brushing Mistake #4: Using the Wrong Bristle Type
The same people who brush a bit too roughly may also fall prey to the fallacy of “harder bristles are better bristles”.
The truth is, the same problems that afflict people who brush too hard can also plague those who brush with stiff bristles. Instead of getting firm-bristled toothbrushes, get soft bristles and use a moderate pressure while brushing.
Brushing Mistake #5: Using an Old Brush
Bristles getting frayed? Do you find yourself using the same brush for long periods while the seasons change around you? Bust this bad habit and resolve to use a new brush every three to four months—the price of a good new brush just four times per year could be the key to saving you hundreds or even thousands in dental office bills!
Brushing Mistake #6: Brushing at the Wrong Angle
A lot of people brush their teeth with the toothbrush bristles at a straight, perpendicular angle to the teeth. This can actually cause undue wear and tear on tooth enamel, causing crevices to form where bacteria can multiply.
Instead of brushing head-on, take a 45-degree angle approach, sweeping plaque and food debris away from the gum line with the brush at an angle rather than resting fully against the teeth straight on.
Brushing Mistake #7: Brushing Side to Side
Another mistake many of us make while brushing is using a side-to-side or straight-up-and-down motion while we brush our teeth.
This repetitive sawing or sweeping can erode tooth enamel in specific spots, just like using the wrong angle while brushing can do. Instead of sawing at or sweeping at your teeth, try using a gentle, circular motion while brushing.
This approach allows you to cover more of the tooth’s surface area, keeping the enamel safe while making the tooth cleaner—all with less effort.
Brushing Mistake #8: Using Harsh Toothpastes
Stay away from harsh toothpastes that boast claims of whitening and brightening—some ingredients in whitening pastes or pastes labeled as “tartar control” can be extremely harsh, and although they may temporarily whiten your smile, they can erode the enamel on your teeth and cause sensitivity and even lead to decay if overused.
Instead of using commercial toothpaste you can try coconut oil as there are many reasons to use coconut oil as a toothpaste. This is a natural alternative to commercial toothpastes that contain poisonous chemicals and may even embed plastic in your gums.
Brushing Mistake #9: You Neglect Your Tongue
You can give attention to your teeth, brushing them twice a day, but what about brushing your tongue? Our tongue is not smooth, and all the crevices are a good place for bacteria to hide in these areas, causing bad breath, reducing your dental health and even causing tooth damage.
Rinsing your mouth with water is not enough to remove the bacteria as it targets only the outer layer of the bacteria, but the microorganisms beneath the surface still survive and continue to thrive. It is therefore important to physically brush you tongue to remove the bacteria.
Cleaning your tongue is very easy. Every time you brush your teeth, give attention to your tongue by brushing it back and forth and side to side, and at the end rinse your mouth with water. Don’t brush too hard so you don’t damage the skin on the tongue.
Paying attention to your tongue is a good idea, as your tongue can actually be a valuable tool that you can use to keep track of your health. You can read some tips on how to understand what your tongue is telling you in my article about the 8 warning signs your tongue may be sending.
Brushing mistake #10: You are Not Flossing
Brushing your teeth without flossing is a common mistake. Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums and the American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Flossing is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities (eggshells can also help you as well).
Related article: Be Your Own Dentist! Easy Tricks for Plaque Removal At Home
Bonus Mistake #1: You Eat too Much Acidic Food
Although many acidic foods and drinks (such as apple cider vinegar) can be quite healthy for you in moderation, this is a situation where the proverbial “too much of a good thing” applies.
Acidic foods and beverages can eat away at the protective enamel on your teeth, leading to pain and paving the way for cavities to form. Keep tabs on what you eat and drink, and try to balance out acidic foods and drinks with those that are alkaline or more balanced in pH in order to protect your teeth.
Must Read: This Poison Destroys Your Bones but Everyone Drinks It (Even Daily)
What You Can do To Keep Your Teeth Healthy
– Avoid commercial tooth whitening products as many of these products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health and can ultimately lead to eroding the enamel on your teeth. Instead use this natural method to whiten your teeth in 3 minutes.
– You can also chew on this root to melt away plaque and fight tooth decay.
Here is a useful infographic that you can use on how NOT to brush your teeth: