Brushing your teeth is probably such a normal part of your daily routine that you do not give it much thought. But you may be surprised to know that most people make some serious mistakes when brushing their teeth. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see:
- Trying to clean your teeth. The goal of brushing and flossing is not scrubbing off food or stains—it’s removing bacterial colonies, or plaque, that have colonized on your teeth. Plaque is actually soft and easy to remove.
- Scrubbing instead of massaging. Because plaque is soft, you do not need to scrub your teeth. Scrubbing tends to wear away the roots of your teeth, which can result in deep grooves in the necks of your teeth as you age. This can become a chronic problem. Instead, you should massage your teeth in a soft, circular motion.
- Using a hard toothbrush. Think a medium or hard brush must be better because you can get really polish your pearly whites? Not so. In fact, it’s best to use the softest toothbrush you can find. If you are unable to find an ultra-soft toothbrush, use a children’s brush.
- Scrubbing with an electric toothbrush. Mechanical-assisted or electronic toothbrushes are designed to do the job of a manual toothbrush with less effort. One of the mistakes people make is to take an electric toothbrush and scrub with it, which doubles up the issue of wearing away the roots of the tooth.
- Don’t rush to brush. Do you ever have the urge to brush your teeth right after you eat? The problem with doing so is that you will be brushing your teeth while the acid that you’ve just consumed is still fresh on your teeth. So you’re acid washing your teeth and the necks of your teeth. This will wear away the necks of your teeth. So, don’t brush in a rush. Take your time. It takes a full two minutes to brush your teeth properly. Anything less and you most assuredly missed something that needed your careful attention.
- Dragging the brush across the tooth structure. When you drag a manual or electric brush across the structure of your teeth, you will wear away the surface and curvature of the tooth. This will create a flat surface that will eventually become a groove in the neck of your teeth. Remember that when you’re brushing your teeth, you’re actually trying to clean in the embrasure space, which is that triangular or pyramidal space in between the teeth that—this is where bacteria thrive. Short, oscillating motions are the most effective at removing this bacteria and protecting the surface of your teeth.
- Holding the brush flat against the tooth. Holding your toothbrush straight against your tooth puts more force on the root, which can cause it to eventually wear away. Instead, it’s best to point your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gum, not right where the teeth meet the gum. Down toward the gum is the best way to do it.