We all learned how to brush our teeth a long time ago. So it's easy to think that something we do so often (hopefully) is being done the correct way. Improper brushing is actually very prevalent and can lead to unhealthy teeth even in those who are brushing every day.
Here are some main oral hygiene mistakes that people make:
- Using the wrong style of brush - A lot of people use medium or hard bristle brushes because they feel they are getting a better clean. Soft bristles are usually the preferred way to go for proper at-home hygiene. Soft plaque will come off best with soft bristles. When the plaque has calcified to become tartar, the only way to get it off will be a professional cleaning. Trying to get tartar off with hard bristles can lead to damage to delicate gum tissue.
- Not replacing an old brush - You should replace your toothbrush or brush head every 3-4 months. This prevents a buildup of bacteria on the brush and also increases the efficacy of your brushing. Using a brush with frayed bristles can severely limit the ability to properly clean your teeth.
- Brushing back and forth - You should brush in a circular motion, angling the bristles of the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline and focus on a couple teeth at a time. This is the best way to properly remove tartar.
- Moving all around the mouth - People don't always brush in the same manner every day. Jumping from spot to spot in your mouth can lead to undercleaning and overlooking of teeth surfaces. We recommend starting in the same spot every time and working from quadrant to quadrant (dividing your mouth into four separate areas - top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left).
- Brushing too aggressively - Putting too much pressure on the teeth and gums with the brush can lead to several deleterious effects. One is gum recession around the teeth. This can lead to a lack of support for the dentition which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Also, repairing these issues with tissue grafting procedures can be costly and complex. Brushing the teeth too firmly can lead to abrasion lesions where the enamel is removed, exposing the sensitive dentin underneath.
- Not brushing long enough - It is recommended that you brush for 2 minutes twice per day. To those who only brush for about 30 seconds this can feel like an eternity. We recommend keeping a timer to help you brush for long enough. Most electric toothbrushes have a built in timer that will cause the toothbrush to buzz or stop when you have completed the 2 minutes.
- Using too much toothpaste - A pea sized amount of toothpaste is really all you need to effectively clean your teeth. Any extra is just wasting money and limiting brush to tooth contact for proper cleansing.
- Not using an electric toothbrush - There is no possible way to brush your teeth as effectively or thoroughly with a manual toothbrush as compared to a powered brush. Many of these brushes indicate if you are brushing too hard and (as previously mentioned) have timers on them to ensure you are brushing for long enough. It makes brushing easier because you just need to hold the brush in the proper position and let it do the work for you. It is time to switch to an electric toothbrush if you haven't already.
Marion Dental Group cares about your dental well-being. We hope to be the practice you choose to come see for your cleanings and check-ups. Often times with diligent preventive care at home and in our offices, you can avoid more extensive dental work. We will be happy to be the ones to tell you that your teeth are uneventful! Call us today!