5 Tooth Brushing Mistakes to Avoid

Mar 02, 2024
5 Tooth Brushing Mistakes to Avoid
You’ve been brushing your teeth since you were a kid, so you know what you’re doing, right? Well, you may not know what you’re doing wrong. Tooth brushing requires the proper tools and technique. Here’s how to avoid common mistakes.

You may think there's no room for improvement when you’ve been doing something your entire life and getting pretty good results. But many women and men who brush their teeth every day make mistakes with tools and techniques.

Knowledge of how to best care for your teeth evolves. The steps your parents taught you as a child may not be sufficient to protect your teeth and gums as an adult.

Addie Chang, DMD, a caring family dentist, emphasizes the importance of 

preventive dental care. This includes daily brushing and flossing and twice-yearly trips to your dentist. But it also includes mistake-free brushing.

Are you making the following teeth-brushing mistakes? If so, we have solutions.

1. Using a hard or worn-out brush

While you may think you need to scrub your teeth like a dirty bathtub, think again. The hard enamel that coats and protects your teeth can be scrubbed away from over-vigorous brushing. And, sadly, enamel doesn’t grow back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Only use a soft-bristled brush, and use it gently. Also, replace your brush as soon as the bristles start to spread. They’re no longer as efficient when they’re worn out. Most brushes only last 2-3 months before they need to be replaced.

2. Not brushing long or often enough

Every single quadrant of your mouth needs at least 30 seconds of brushing time. That means you need to brush for two minutes during each cleaning session. 

Don’t neglect the back teeth, either. Make sure every tooth gets at least a couple of passes with your brush. Brush the fronts of your teeth, the backs, the edges, and the chewing surfaces (i.e., molars).

Also, brush at least twice a day, including right before bedtime. Ideally, you should brush or rinse your teeth every time you eat. 

3. Brushing too soon or too hard

Although your teeth are hard, immediately after eating, they’re softer and more porous than usual due to the acids and sugars in your foods and beverages. In fact, for about 30 minutes after you eat or drink, the enamel on your teeth is weaker than usual.

Rinse your mouth after you eat or drink with plain water. Wait for half an hour after a meal before brushing so that your teeth have time to re-mineralize and harden. Brushing too soon could damage your enamel.

So could brushing too hard. Be sure to use a gentle, sweeping, downward movement with your toothbrush. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle, starting at the gum line. 

4. Flossing afterward instead of before (or not at all)

A new recommendation on flossing advises that you do it before brushing rather than after. That’s because flossing not only removes food particles, it might also remove the minerals in your toothpaste, such as fluoride, you need to protect your teeth.

So, rinse your mouth before brushing, floss, or use a waterpick. After you brush your teeth with an ADA-approved toothpaste, you don’t have to floss again.

5. Doing it all yourself

Brushing at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily is important, but it’s insufficient to ensure oral health. A professional cleaning from your dentist removes plaque and its hardened form (called tartar), which you can’t remove yourself.

In addition, your dentist removes stains that dull your smile. And more important, we check the health of your teeth, gums, and oral tissues to identify any problems in their earliest, most treatable phases.

Is it time for your preventive care visit, including professional dental cleaning and brushing? Contact our team by phone or the online form for preventive care today.