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9 most common tooth brushing mistakes

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: July 29, 2014, Updated: April 4, 2016
SUMMARY: Here are the top nine mistakes people make when brushing their teeth.

common tooth brushing mistakes

Turns out many of us have sub-par tooth brushing abilities. Though it's a twice-a-day routine, the way we brush our pearly whites might not be as effective as we think - or worse, it may actually be damaging dental enamel and the gum line. Check out the nine biggest tooth? brushing mistakes:

1. Not brushing correctly
Long horizontal strokes along the gumline can erode gum tissue. The American Dentist Association recommends aiming your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle and doing short strokes or vibrations. Gently brush in a circular motion on your teeth, not horizontally across your teeth.

2. Brushing too hard
You aren't scrubbing a stain off your sports car. While white teeth may be just as valuable in the long run as that Ferrari, brushing too hard can be harmful to teeth and gums. Aggressive brushing can lead to swollen gums and even gum recession - where gum tissue begin to pull away from teeth. If your gums bleed after brushing, it's a telltale sign that you should ease up on your brushing horse power. Remember this: Don't brush so hard that the bristles bend on your teeth.

3. Your bristles are too stiff
If your gums become swollen and red even after you've toned down your brushing intensity, try switching to a brush with lighter bristles. For those who have sensitive gums, finding a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles is crucial.

4. Forgetting about the two-minute rule
Most people fall far short of the dentist-recommended two-minute rule. In fact, the average time we brush our teeth is only about 45 seconds. To reach the full two minutes, try humming the verse, chorus and second verse of your favorite song. By then, you should have met the requirements.

5. Not ditching your brush
While we can't seem to brush long enough in our day-to-day routines, most of us latch onto the same toothbrush for too long. The American Dentist Association recommends swapping out toothbrushes after about two to three months. After this time, bacteria and food particles begin to accumulate on the bristles and even the handle. Be sure to change heads and clean the handle if you own an electric toothbrush.

6. Skipping inner tooth surfaces
Front teeth may be responsible for the glamor in your smile, but they shouldn't steal all of the attention when it comes to brushing your teeth. Most people forget to brush their molars and the inner surfaces of their teeth - the surfaces that your tongue presses against. Dentists report that the most commonly skipped area is the inner surface of the lower front teeth.

7. Neglecting the tongue
The tongue contains a lot of bacteria from what you eat and drink, hosting bad breath. Most of the day-to-day halitosis originates on the tongue, so it's important that you use your brush to clean the front and back of your tongue or use a tongue scraper. Some toothbrushes even have a harder surface on the back of the head, which is meant for tongue cleaning.

8. Regular to electric power trouble
Maintaining brushing intensity after switching to electric can cause problems for some people. It's true, electric toothbrushes are shown to be more effective at eliminating plaque off dental enamel than regular brushes. But since electric brushes vibrate on teeth, you don't have to scrub as vigorously.

9. Not following with a rinse
Cavity-causing, bad breath-inducing bacteria can grow on an unrinsed toothbrush. Be sure to rinse it after you brush to remove any food debris and toothpaste.

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