Surprising Brushing Mistakes That are Harming Your Teeth

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 25, 2014

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Quick Bites

  • Consider the size of your mouth when picking a toothbrush.
  • A soft bristled brush is the perfect choice.
  • Brushing softly for no more than thrice a day is ideal.
  • Brushing should last for at least 2-3 minutes.

Toothbrushing is such an ingrained habit, few people think twice about it. Step one in your daily routine- brushing your pearly whites ‘properly’ is what is stressed upon right from childhood. However, mistakes are evidently made. As with any habit, you can get sloppy, and that can lead to cavities and gum diseases.

Below are 10 surprising brushing mistakes that you are probably making and harming your teeth.

Brushing Mistakes

Using the Wrong Toothbrush

No, we don’t mean that you are using someone else’s toothbrush; but the one that doesn’t suit your mouth. Consider the size of your mouth when picking a toothbrush, and the comfort of the handle before buying one, recommends the American Dental Association. If you are straining to open wide enough to let the brush in, the brush is probably too big.

Picking the Wrong Bristles

Some toothbrushes have angled bristles, others straight, hard and soft. So, which is better? Bristles that are too stiff are known to aggravate gums. Hence a soft bristled brush is the perfect choice. One must also bear in mind that the bristles should be sturdy enough to remove the plaque but not cause damage to the teeth.

Toothbrush Brushing Mistakes

Not Brushing Often

With too much time between brushings, bacterial plaque can build up, boosting the risk of gum inflammation and other problems. Brushing thrice a day softly is ideal. But not more than that as that could result in exposure of the root of the tooth leading to irritation.

Not Brushing Long Enough

Brushing should last for two minutes; making it last for three minutes is even better. Divide the mouth into quadrants and spend 30 seconds a quadrant. Some electric toothbrushes include built-in timers for your convenience.

Brushing Too Hard

Excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth to irritation and that could in turn irritate the gums. Brushing vigorously can also erode tooth enamel.The trick is to brush very gently for two to three minutes.

Brushing Mistakes

Not Brushing Correctly

Do you know the correct technique of brushing? Aim your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle and do short strokes or vibrations. Softly brush up and down your teeth, not across your teeth. The strokes should be vertical or circular, not horizontal.

Ignoring the Inside of Your Teeth

Most people forget to brush the inner surfaces of teeth -- the surface that your tongue presses against. Skipping your back teeth, molars and pre-molars while brushing can cause cavities and also lead to bad breath.

Not Rinsing Properly

After brushing, rinsing the toothbrush and your mouth with water is extremely crucial. Bacteria are known to grow on an un-rinsed toothbrush. Thoroughly washing the brush will help you getting rid of any leftover toothpaste and particles stuck in the bristles.

Toothbrush Mistakes

Ignoring the Tongue

The tongue should be given some much-needed attention too. A tongue cleaner or scraper should be used to kill the bacteria present in that area of the mouth and hence, freshen your breath.

Using the same Toothpaste for Long

The American Dental Association recommends getting a new brush every three or four months or even sooner if the bristles look frayed.

According to the British Dental Health Foundation, electric toothbrushes have been proven to be more effective than manual toothbrushes at removing plaque. Your dentist or hygienist can advise which one best suits your dental needs.

Image Courtesy: Getty

Read more articles on Tooth Decay.

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