You only get one set of adult teeth. That’s why proper oral hygiene is extremely important. Unfortunately, even though brushing is the most common part of any oral hygiene regimen, many people don’t brush correctly. From getting distracted by types of toothpaste to spending only a few seconds brushing, you’re probably making at least one of these common brushing mistakes.
Pick a Brush
Your toothbrush should fit inside your mouth comfortably and should have soft bristles. Anything firmer can damage your gums. If you’re constantly knocking the plastic of your brush against your teeth, you probably need a smaller one. It’s important that you reach the very backs of your teeth and are able to thoroughly brush them without trouble. An electric toothbrush is a fine choice for adding vigor to your brushing, but only if you have good technique already. Good brushing technique with a manual brush is better than bad technique with an electric brush.
Consider Frequency and Length
You should brush your teeth two or three times a day. Most people choose first thing in the morning and right before bed because it’s easy to add brushing into those routines. You may also want to add a brushing session after lunch or right when you get home for the evening.
While you’re brushing, a full two minutes is suggested, but most people fall far short of this mark. If you’re not using up the whole two minutes, you’re probably missing spots and letting bacteria grow. Keep a timer with your toothpaste so you can get accustomed to a two-minute brush. If watching the clock seems like torture, play a song on your phone and brush along!
Evaluate How you Brush
Two minutes may seem like a long time, but if that’s the case, then you’re probably forgetting key tooth areas. Your brush strokes should be short and gentle. You shouldn’t be afraid to get near your gum line, because it’s essential to get rid of the tartar up there to prevent gum disease. A 45-degree angle is best when brushing near your gums. Don’t neglect your back teeth, especially where they meet your gums.
If you want to mentally break it down, consider the three surfaces of both your upper and lower teeth: the chewing surfaces, the inner surfaces and the outer surfaces. Thoroughly brush them all, and then go for your tongue.
Decide on Toothpaste
You don’t actually need grocery store toothpaste to properly clean your teeth. You can use coconut oil or water. The way you brush is far more important than how much toothpaste you use. Ultimately, toothpaste is designed to make your mouth feel clean, whether or not you actually did a good job cleaning it. You only need a little bit (a pea sized amount!) when you brush. Toothpaste does have important additives like fluoride, but ultimately you need a toothpaste you like the taste of so you brush for your full two minutes.
Always visit the dentist for regular cleanings, and if you have any questions about brushing technique your dentist is a valuable resource. Next time you’re ready to brush your teeth, think about this list and evaluate how you’re doing. And don’t forget to floss!