The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

Many people don’t realize that making mistakes while brushing their teeth can have a significant effect on their oral health. Unfortunately, tooth brushing mistakes are extremely common and almost everyone is expected to make these mistakes at some point or another. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth: 

Wrong Toothbrush

Using the wrong type of toothbrush can be detrimental to your oral health. For example, a brush with hard bristles can cause both dental erosion and gum recession. Instead, it is recommended to use a brush with soft bristles and a handle long enough to reach the back of your mouth. 

Once you have found the right toothbrush, you also need to be sure that you replace it when it wears out. On average, you can expect to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or after you’ve been sick. If your toothbrush bristles are frayed, discolored, or bent, this is an indication that your toothbrush needs to be replaced. 

Wrong Technique & Amount of Pressure

Using the wrong tooth brushing technique not only leaves plaque behind on your teeth, but it can be detrimental to your oral health. While most people brush their teeth by moving their brushes back and forth over their teeth, this is incorrect. The correct way to brush your teeth is to start at the gums and move your toothbrush up and down in small, circular motions. This ensures the most plaque is removed without damaging your teeth or gums. 

diagram on how to brush your teeth

Applying the wrong amount of pressure while brushing can also be detrimental to your oral health. Just like using the wrong type of toothbrush or technique, using too much pressure can also lead to dental erosion and gum recession. Instead of scrubbing your teeth, dentists recommend that you gently massage your teeth with your toothbrush. 

Not Enough Time

Another common mistake people make while brushing their teeth is that they don’t brush long enough. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes twice a day. Rushing to brush your teeth means you may miss certain places and increase your risk for tooth decay. 

plaque accumulation along gumline and magnified view of bacteria

One common place that people often miss when they don’t brush long enough is along the gum line, where the majority of plaque accumulates. To remove plaque from along the gum line, it is important to use a 45° angle when brushing along the gum line. This allows your toothbrush bristles to get under the gum tissue and remove plaque buildup. 

Another common area people miss when they don’t brush long enough is the inside of their teeth. Many people brush the outside of their teeth since that is the visible side, as well as the chewing surface of their teeth. However, the inside surface of the teeth is often forgotten and left to develop gum inflammation and tartar deposits. 

Brushing Too Soon

Although you may think that brushing immediately after a meal is the best way to go, this can actually cause more damage than you may think. After a meal, your mouth is more acidic so adding an abrasive force can actually erode your enamel. Instead, your dentist recommends waiting about 15-20 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. 

Rinsing Afterwards

Once you are done brushing your teeth, you will need to spit out the toothpaste. However, be sure to not rinse your mouth with water afterwards because this causes the fluoride to be less effective. Fluoride is essential to keep your enamel strong and prevent cavities, so you will want to keep it in place as long as possible. 

team photo of Covington Dental

Dr. Mark and Dr. Gina Covington are committed to providing their patients with the highest level of care. Both doctors are members of the Academy of General Dentistry as well as the American Dental Association. Locally, both belong to the Western Piedmont Dental society and the Foothills Dental Continuum. Because dentistry is a dynamic field, continued education is a paramount concern. Both Dr. Mark and Dr. Gina have completed several hundred hours of continued education to become proficient in the science and placement of dental implants. This course of study has allowed them to become Fellows of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.

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