Brush Up Your Brushing! 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Teeth

Keeping your teeth clean can help to keep cavities at bay, but how do you know you're using the right cleaning technique? Many people don't brush at the right time or for long enough to get their teeth fully clean. Learn about these five common oral cleaning mistakes so you can avoid making them yourself.

1. Brushing Too Briefly

Brushing for too brief a time is one of the biggest mistakes people make when caring for their teeth. Dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two minutes each morning and the same again before you go to bed. Rushing through brushing can leave plaque on your teeth, where it eventually hardens into difficult-to-remove tartar that contributes to gum disease.

2. Brushing After You Eat

You might not realize it, but there is a right and a wrong time to brush your teeth. Brushing immediately after a meal can be harmful, as acids in the foods and drinks you consume softens tooth enamel, putting it at risk of erosion when you brush. Brush your teeth before breakfast or wait 20-30 minutes after eating before you brush.

3. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing too hard can damage your delicate gum tissue, leading to chronic dental health problems such as receding gums. You don't need to press hard to remove plaque; simply move your brush in small circles against your teeth to gently clean them. Give your gums a break by choosing a toothbrush that has soft bristles.

4. Neglecting the Back Surfaces of Teeth

The front surfaces of your teeth may be beautifully clean and white, but what about the backs? If you let plaque build up on the back surfaces of your teeth, you could develop toothache, cavities, or even lose a tooth. If you often forget to clean the backs of your teeth, take a systematic approach to brushing: clean all the front surfaces on the top arc, then go back and clean the backs and top surfaces before moving onto your bottom teeth.

5. Forgoing Flossing

Brushing your teeth removes plaque from the front and back surfaces, but the bristles of your toothbrush can't reach between your teeth to clean these tiny crevices. That's why your dentist keeps telling you to floss. By flossing every day, you can keep your mouth free from the bacteria that cause cavities, reducing your risk of developing dental health problems. It doesn't matter whether you use string floss or an interdental brush, but you must clean between your teeth if you want to protect them.

For more information, contact a dentist.