The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day to keep your teeth healthy. But bad brushing habits can leave plaque behind, cause receding gum lines, and damage tooth enamel. That means your daily teeth brushing routine could be going to waste!
Here are three mistakes you may be making when you brush your teeth:
Bad teeth brushing habits to break
1. Brushing too hard
Brushing with too much pressure can damage your gums or expose the roots of your teeth. Remember: brushing your teeth harder doesn’t get them cleaner. Plaque is a sticky but soft film that doesn’t require hard brushing to remove. When plaque hardens, it becomes tartar. Tartar must be removed by a dental professional as it is no longer possible to be removed at home.
Remove plaque by brushing both your teeth and gum line in gentle, back-and-forth strokes at a 45-degree angle. If you notice tooth sensitivity, swelling, or bleeding, ask your dentist if you may be brushing too hard. These could also be underlying symptoms of gum disease.
2. Using the wrong teeth brushing tools & techniques
The ADA recommends using a soft-bristled brush, no matter if it’s a manual toothbrush or an electric one. Medium and firm brushes are abrasive and can damage your gums and teeth enamel, causing sensitivity and bleeding. Look for toothbrushes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance for extra reassurance. Make sure the toothbrush fits in your mouth comfortably. If you have to stretch your jaw to brush, the toothbrush head may be too large for your mouth and may not clean hard-to-reach spaces properly.
Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Never share a toothbrush, even with a family member or significant other. You’ll be sharing bacteria back and forth! Store your toothbrush upright in a cool, dry space.
Pro tip: Learn how to clean your toothbrush here.
3. Not brushing teeth for long enough
It’s easy to fall into the habit of not brushing long enough.
A proper, two-minute brushing includes cleaning the outside surfaces, inside surfaces, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Use a phone or kitchen timer to keep track, switching from right, left, top, and bottom every 30 seconds. Hold your toothbrush vertically to get behind the top and bottom front teeth. Don’t forget to floss!
Remember, a clean mouth isn’t limited to just your teeth. Be sure to brush your tongue too!
Proper teeth brushing is important for your oral health
If you notice you’ve fallen into any of the bad teeth brushing habits we’ve gone over, now is the time to break them! Don’t let bad brushing lead to things like gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, and other problems. Proper teeth brushing techniques make it easy to take care of your oral health, and in turn, your overall health.