It’s no secret that brushing your teeth is the foundation of oral hygiene. Twice-daily brushing is likely a regular part of your routine already, and the new year is a good time to review your technique for maximum effectiveness.
There are avoidable habits and mistakes that could negatively affect your smile. Today, the dentists at Supertooth in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, and Germantown, Maryland, discuss how to avoid five common tooth brushing mistakes.
1. The two-minute rule
Even on the busiest of days, it’s easy to follow the American Dental Association’s recommendation of brushing for two minutes.
If you have a tendency to rush through the process, set a timer or choose a two-minute-long song on your phone while you brush. Many electric brushes have a timer built in.
Over-brushing is also a thing, and it can cause gum irritation and wear away enamel, so the two-minute rule is both the minimum and maximum brushing time for the best results.
Mouthwash can help you achieve that extra-clean feeling without harming your teeth. If you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel, use your mouthwash first.
2. Brushing, not scrubbing
You may think a heavy hand is necessary to scrub off all cavity-causing bacteria, but that’s not the case. Brushing too roughly can actually damage your teeth and gums.
Gentle brushing is enough to clean away stuck-on food and bacteria on your teeth without eroding tooth enamel gum tissue. During a dental cleaning at Supertooth, we can show you the proper pressure and technique for brushing at home.
3. Tend to the tongue
The teeth and gums aren’t the only places in your mouth that collect bacteria. Brushing your tongue eliminates another source of bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Bacteria on your tongue also lead to halitosis, or chronic bad breath. After brushing your teeth, clean your tongue with your toothbrush. A tongue scraper makes the job even easier.
4. Brushing technique
If you’re not using the correct technique when brushing your teeth, plaque and tartar can build up in the spots you miss. Hold your toothbrush at a 45° angle to your gum line, and move it in gentle, short sweeps on all sides of your teeth.
Clean the inner and outer surfaces, as well as the chewing surfaces where food particles often get stuck. Tilt your toothbrush vertically to get behind your front teeth. Once again, ask us to help you maximize your technique.
5. The right toothbrush
With so many kinds of toothbrushes on the market today, the choices can overwhelm. We recommend choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles, as these are the least abrasive to your enamel and gums.
Toothbrushes with medium and hard bristles can wear down the outer layer of your teeth, leading to temperature sensitivity. We suggest saving these brushes for household cleaning tasks, not oral hygiene.
Also, replace your toothbrush every three months. Old toothbrushes can harbor bacteria, and frayed, worn-down bristles aren’t effective at cleaning your teeth. Replace your toothbrush sooner if you’ve had an illness such as a cold or strep throat, to prevent reinfecting yourself.
It’s easy for bad habits to creep into a daily task that’s likely automatic. Chances are you’re thinking about anything and everything except the act of brushing.
We’re here at Supertooth to keep your oral care on track and can let you know when we see signs your routine isn’t all it can be. Call or click to request an appointment today.