Considering that most people have been brushing their teeth since they were old enough to tie their own shoes, most no longer give the habit much thought. However, just because you’ve spent most of your life brushing doesn’t mean that you haven’t picked up some bad habits along the way that can contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
To help you avoid costly mistakes with your oral hygiene, here are five common toothbrushing mistakes that can help build plaque from the Portland dentist professionals at Burlingame Dental Arts.
Using the Wrong Brush
Despite how often you use your toothbrush- ideally twice a day- you’ve probably never given much thought about whether the brush you use is right for you. After all, most people decide on which toothbrush to buy depending on what brand is the cheapest. Unfortunately, to properly clean your mouth, you need a brush designed for you.
When selecting the right toothbrush, you need to consider the size of your mouth. Finding yourself needing to strain in order to open wide enough to fit a brush in your mouth probably means the head of the toothbrush is too large for your mouth. Whatever brush you choose also needs to feel comfortable in your hand. If the handle of the brush feels clumsy or awkward in your hand there’s a good chance it will cause you to use a poor technique when brushing.
Not Brushing Long Enough
The American Dental Association recommends you spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth at least twice a day. When you consider all of the various nooks, crannies, and crevices your mouth contains, you can see why it takes more than a few seconds to adequately scrub away built up plaque deposits and lingering food particles. However despite the ADA’s recommendation, studies have found that the average person spends 30 seconds on average brushing, or one minute total a day. Not nearly enough time.
To ensure you spend enough time brushing, make an effort to keep an eye on the clock and make sure two minutes pass before putting down the brush. To give each area of your mouth equal attention, try dividing your mouth into four quadrants and spend roughly 30 seconds brushing each one.
While it’s commendable to take brushing seriously, you can actually damage the health of your teeth and gums by brushing too aggressively. Brushing serves as a way to remove harmful bacteria and food debris from your mouth, not as a way to work off a little stress. If you have a habit of brushing until your gums feel raw or start to bleed, you have past the point of helpful oral hygiene, and could be causing serious damage to the health of your teeth and gums.
Aggressive brushing can erode away tooth enamel, exposing the delicate center of the tooth to decay, and cause your gums to become irritated and inflamed, which can lead to gum disease. The best brushing techniques clean your teeth, while also keeping your gums and tooth enamel healthy. If you over brush, talk with one of our Portland dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts about improving your technique.
Start in the Same Place
In many ways, brushing serves as a mindless activity. Your hand moves back and forth as you shift it around to various points in the mouth. It’s only natural that after awhile you start to zone out when focusing on brushing, which generally means that you pay more attention to the areas of the mouth where you start brushing than the areas you finish at.
By starting in the same spot each time you brush, you run the risk of thoroughly cleaning certain parts of your mouth consistently, while inadvertently neglecting other parts of your mouth. Starting in a different spot each time you brush helps to ensure that you don’t neglect certain parts of your mouth just because that’s the are you finish brushing last.
Skipping the Inner Tooth Surfaces
Plaque builds up everywhere in the mouth, including the back of your teeth. By neglecting to brush the back of your teeth you allow plaque to cause just as much damage as if you didn’t brush at all.