Seven Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

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At Harmony Dental, Dr. da Costa and his friendly and professional staff want to ensure that every patient enjoys a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, which is why we remain committed to providing you with information about how to achieve the best oral care. As most patients already know, fighting the effects of tooth decay and preventing gum disease means brushing and flossing daily. However, even though patients have spent most of their lives brushing doesn’t mean they haven’t picked up some poor habits along the way. To help maintain your oral health and prevent problems that can lead to cavities and gum disease, here are some common toothbrushing mistakes to avoid.

1. Using the Wrong Toothbrush

While it’s tempting to think of every toothbrush as performing the same task, some work better than others depending on the size of your mouth. If you find yourself struggling to fit the brush into your mouth, than the head of the brush is probably too big. Ideally you should use a brush that has a head just big enough to cover one tooth at a time while brushing. This will ensure that each tooth gets cleaned individually, while also preventing you from using a brush too large for your mouth.

The handle of a toothbrush should also fit comfortably in your hand, and feel similar to holding a fork when eating.

Even if it seems silly to give so much thought to the size of a toothbrush, just consider that the easier a time you have using a toothbrush, the more likely you’ll be to use it and use it properly.

2. Using the Wrong Bristles

While you might not stop to consider how soft a toothbrush’s bristles are before purchasing a brush, you really should. Brushes that have hard, wiry bristles can damage tooth enamel and leave your teeth more susceptible to decay. You want to find a brush that offers bristles strong enough to effectively remove plaque from your teeth, while still being soft enough they don’t irritate gum tissue and wear away tooth enamel.

3. Not Brushing Long Enough

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush for two minutes at a time at least twice a day. However, studies have shown that the average person only spends roughly 30 seconds brushing each session, or 1 minute total each day. That’s only a quarter of the amount of time you should spend brushing. Even though your teeth may feel clean after brushing for less than two minutes, odds are you have missed several areas of plaque. For the best brushing practice, Dr. da Costa recommends that you divide your mouth into four sections, and spend 30 seconds cleaning each one.

4. Aggressively Brushing

Some people get a little too aggressive when brushing their teeth, which could also damage enamel and gum tissue. If you find yourself brushing until your gums begin to bleed, you need to either decrease the force of your brushing or find a brush with softer bristles. Brushing too aggressively can inflame your gum tissue, which could lead your gums to recede away from the base of your teeth over time. Receding gums are one of the main causes of tooth loss.

5. Repeat the Starting Line

If you always begin brushing your teeth in the same part of the mouth, that area always probably gets cleaner than other areas of the mouth. It’s not uncommon for people to lose interest as the brush, so the areas you start with are more likely to receive your full attention than the last areas you brush. To ensure each area of your mouth gets equal attention, try starting in a different quadrant each time you brush.

6. Skipping the Inner Tooth

Another common mistake people make is not brushing the underside of their teeth. While it’s common to focus on the areas most visible, plaque can accumulate anywhere on a tooth, not just the parts you notice when you smile. So make sure you clean both the front and back of every tooth to remove any hard to reach plaque.

7. Not Using a Mouthwash

By finishing your brushing routine with the use of an antibacterial mouthwash, you can better ensure you destroy any deposits of plaque missed while brushing. Regular use of a mouthwash can also help to improve your breath.

If you have any questions about common toothbrushing mistakes, feel free to ask Dr. da Costa during your next appointment.

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