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Things You’re Doing Wrong When Brushing Your Teeth

It’s one of the simplest things you do all day, and it’s literally a no-brainer. Brushing your teeth, like tying your shoes, takes no thought at all, but it should. There’s a right way to brush your teeth, which means there’s also a wrong way — many wrong ways.

Our team at Brite Dental Spa in New York, New York, sees the consequences of bad brushing habits every day. From cavities and gum disease to receding gums, stains, and even pain, you may be doing more harm than good if you’re making these common teeth brushing mistakes.

You use the wrong kind of toothbrush

You have a staggering number of options when it comes to choosing a toothbrush. Anyone who's ever stood staring at the array of sizes, shapes, and colors in the toothbrush aisle at their local drugstore knows that the choice can be overwhelming. We’re here to make it less stressful: go soft.

That’s right, harder isn’t better; it’s harmful. The most important quality of your toothbrush is soft bristles that gently remove bacteria and plaque. Hard bristles damage your gums, but soft bristles gently slip between your teeth and gums to clean below the surface. 

You use too much force

When it comes to cleaning pots and pans, the more scrubbing, the better. In fact, most cleaning jobs benefit from a little elbow grease — but not your teeth. The plaque and bacteria on your teeth are typically soft and loose, so forceful brushing is not only overkill, it can damage the soft tissues in your mouth.

You don’t brush long enough

To clean all the surfaces in your mouth, it should take you about two minutes — about 30 seconds in each quadrant. Be methodical and make sure sure you attend to the front, back, and sides of each tooth. You could set a timer to make sure you spend enough time at the job or play one of your favorite songs while you’re brushing — most last about two to three minutes.

You don’t replace your toothbrush often enough

You should toss your toothbrush and replace it about every three to four months, but the visual cues are more reliable than the calendar. Anytime you notice bent, smashed, or frayed bristles, it’s time for a new toothbrush.

You brush in the wrong direction

The best way to clean your teeth is in an up-and-down motion along the vertical length of your teeth. Small circular movements as you brush from top to bottom can be helpful, too. The back-and-forth technique isn’t as efficient and can actually damage your gums. At the gum line, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle so the bristle can get under the edge of your gums.

You forget your tongue

Bacteria hang out on all the surfaces in your mouth, so if you only brush your teeth, you leave one very big surface area dirty — your tongue. Most toothbrushes have a nubby texture on the back of the head meant just for this purpose. Swipe those nubs across the surface of your tongue to get rid of the germs there, too.

You brush too soon

You may think that rushing to the bathroom to brush your teeth immediately after a meal is the best way to get rid of any food particles that might set up shop and harbor bacteria. But hold off for at least 20 minutes after a meal before brushing, because if you go in any sooner than that, the acids in the food are still strong. Brushing your teeth may cause microabrasions that allow the acid to seep in. Give your saliva enough time to break down the acid before brushing.

What to do if you’ve been brushing wrong

The good news is that it’s never too late to change up your brushing habits. If you’ve been brushing your teeth wrong for years, there’s no time like the present to turn over a new leaf and adopt a new routine. 

But your oral care doesn’t start and stop with brushing. Daily flossing is just as important, as are regular check-ups and professional cleanings. Twice a year, we recommend you visit us so we can assess your oral health and detect any problems early, such as cavities and the beginning stages of gum disease. 

We clear away any plaque, tartar, and stains that your toothbrush missed and polish your teeth so they’re smooth and gleaming. If you have some stubborn stains or slight discoloration, we offer the Zoom!® professional teeth whitening system we can do here in our office or for at-home use. 

To learn more about proper dental care or to schedule an appointment with our experienced and caring team of dental experts, call us or book online today.

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