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Top 10 Toothbrushing Mistakes

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 by

When you brush your teeth each day, do you really think about what you’re doing? For most, it’s a habit so ingrained in us that we don’t think twice, but this can lead to sloppy brushing and can cause cavities and gum disease. Be sure to avoid these mistakes when brushing your teeth:
Mistake #1: Not Using the Right Toothbrush
It is important to take the size of your mouth into account when picking a toothbrush – if you are straining to open your mouth wide enough to allow the brush in, it is most likely too big for you. The handle needs to be comfortable, similar to holding a fork when you eat. The more comfortable the brush is in your hand and mouth, the more likely you will use it properly.
In regards to using an electric versus a manual brush, that depends more on the brusher than the brush. If you brush well, either kind will work the same for you.
Mistake #2: Not Picking the Right Bristles
Bristles should be sturdy enough to remove plaque but not too much so that it damages teeth when used correctly. Bristles too stiff can aggravate your gums.
Mistake #3: Not Brushing Often Enough or Long Enough
Softly brushing your teeth at least twice a day is recommended, and three times a day is even better. With too much time between brushings, bacterial plaque will build up and boost the risk of gum inflammation.
Brushing should also last at least two to three minutes. The best way to utilize the two minutes is to divide the mouth into quadrants and spend 30 seconds on each quadrant. Some brushes even come with timers.
Mistake #4: Brushing too Often or too Hard
While brushing your teeth three times a day is ideal, you may not want to go much higher than that. Excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth to irritation which could then irritate the gums. Brushing too hard can also erode tooth enamel.
Mistake #5: Not Brushing Correctly
For optimal brushing, you want to aim your bristles at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and do short, vertical or circular strokes or vibrations. Long horizontal strokes along the gumline can lead to abrasion.
It is also important to brush outer and inner tooth surfaces, the chewing surfaces and your tongue.
Mistake #6: Starting in the Same Place Each Time
Dentists have found that many people start brushing their teeth in the same place over and over. Beginning in a different area will ensure you don’t get lazy in the same area of your mouth (usually the last quadrant).
Mistake #7: Skipping Inner Tooth Surfaces
Most people forget to brush the inner surfaces of their teeth, the surface that your tongue presses against. Just because you can’t see it, does not mean that plaque cannot reach it. The most common skipped area is the inner surface of the lower front teeth.
Mistake #8: Not Following up with a Rinse
Bacteria can grow on an unrinsed toothbrush, which means the next time you brush your teeth you may be putting old bacteria back into your mouth. After you brush, rinse your toothbrush to get rid of bacteria as well as any leftover toothpaste.
Mistake #9: Not Letting the Toothbrush Dry
A toothbrush that is perpetually moist will cultivate more bacteria. You can also misshape bristles if they stay soggy. Shake out the moisture when you are done brushing and recap your toothbrush with a cap that allows air in.
Mistake #10: Not Changing the Toothbrush Often Enough
The American Dental Association recommends getting a new brush every three or four months, and even sooner if your bristles are beginning to fray. Rather than keeping track of a timeline, inspect your toothbrush each time you use it to see if bristles are losing flexibility or are breaking apart. If they are, it is time for a new one.
On top of brushing, don’t forget your regular dental checkups at Art of Modern Dentistry!
Courtesy of WebMD

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