Are you making these brushing mistakes?

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After I was diagnosed with gum disease, I quickly became obsessed with my oral health. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I was doing wrong. And given the stats on oral hygiene in America, you might be making some of the same mistakes.

  • Brushing side-to-side. For most of my life I brushed across my teeth. Turns out, you’re supposed to brush with short circular or up-and-down strokes, gently massaging your teeth and gum line.
  • Skipping surfaces. It’s important to brush all surfaces of your teeth – outer, inner and chewing. The inner surfaces often get overlooked, especially on the lower front teeth. Also, brush your tongue to remove bacteria.
  • Brushing for less than 2 minutes. According to the ADA, you should be brushing at least twice daily for two minutes each time to effectively clean your teeth. My dental hygienist told me to divide my mouth into four sections, spending 30 seconds on each.
  • Starting at the same place. Starting at the same place every time you brush might result in the last area consistently getting less attention. Switch it up each time but starting with a different quadrant.
  • Not flossing. Flossing at least once a day is even more important than brushing when it comes to gum disease and tooth loss. Beyond gum disease, not flossing can impact your entire body, especially for women who are pregnant.
  • Sawing floss. Floss should not simply be sawed up and down between your teeth. Floss in a “C” shape against the side of the tooth.
  • Brushing too hard. Brushing too hard could erode tooth enamel and damage sensitive gums. Brush gently for the recommended two minutes.
  • Not rinsing your brush. After you brush your teeth, rinse the bristles thoroughly with water. Once in awhile, consider soaking your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide or mouthwash.
  • Inviting germs to grow. Your toothbrush may contain over 10 million bacteria. The main culprits? Bacteria from an open-flushed toilet (ew) and mold growth from airtight toothbrush covers. If you use a toothbrush cover, make sure the toothbrush can still dry. Try to keep your toothbrush at least six feet away from your toilet, preferably in a closed cabinet, and always put the lid down when you flush.
  • Brushing right after you eat. Turns out, there is such a thing as a bad time to brush your teeth. Brushing immediately after meals and drinks (particularly acidic meals and drinks) can cause more harm than good to your teeth. To avoid damage, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.
  • Using the wrong brush. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends choosing a soft-bristle tooth brush that fits comfortably in your mouth. For more tips on choosing the right brush, check out this blog.
  • Not replacing frequently enough. Whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush, it’s important to change it every 3-4 months

Am I missing a common brushing or flossing mistake? Let me know! Share your tip below.

Photo Credit: Tricia Wang

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