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Mission possible: Avoid oral care blunders

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: July 1, 2015, Updated: March 21, 2016
SUMMARY: Protecting your smile and overall oral health is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

When you're a secret agent like Ethan Hunt from "Mission Impossible," making one wrong move could mean the end. As you can imagine, this illustrious character has a lot of incentive to carefully plan everything he does. Imagine if we all put that much attention into our oral care routine. Fortunately, making sure your teeth and mouth are healthy isn't as tedious as dangling from a rope while downloading sensitive computer from a bank vault, though it might feel that way. By avoiding these common but detrimental oral care mistakes, you can protect your mouth better than Ethan Hunt saves the day:

Brushing right after a meal
While agent Hunt has to finish his missions within a time constraint, you should actually wait to brush your teeth. Many people think that brushing their teeth right after a meal will protect the enamel - after all, you're removing potentially harmful food particles. However, this is actually detrimental to oral health.

When you eat, bacteria from food weaken your enamel, leaving it more delicate than usual. If you brush your teeth while your enamel is in a weakened state, you can actually cause damage with your toothbrush. Instead, wait half an hour for the enamel to harden. That way, you'll get rid of bacteria but won't scratch your delicate teeth.

Using the wrong tools
Every secret agent needs the right tools for the job - how else would they rappel into vaults or hack computers? Oral care is the same way. The toothbrush you pick can impact how well you brush your teeth. Ideally, your brush should fit comfortably in your mouth and feel natural. If you struggle to move it around, it may be too big. 

Additionally, many dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush. Manual toothbrushes leave room for human error, such as brushing too hard or not being able to reach far back into your mouth. Electric models, on the other hand, can actually clean your teeth and gums better because the motion and pressure is even.

Of course, choosing a toothbrush that fits your mouth and encourages you to brush is ideal. Many electric toothbrushes allow you to choose from a variety of heads, so finding one that suits you is easy.

Being too rough
Any mission, whether as an agent or in your mouth, requires some delicacy. However, many people brush and floss their teeth with too much force. Pushing on your teeth with those bristles could damage the enamel, leaving the more-delicate dentin exposed to bacteria. Additionally, flossing with excessive force can irritate the gums.

Be gentle when you brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth for two minutes, making sure you cover your entire mouth, even your tongue. As for floss, don't force it hard against your gums. Work it between the teeth, moving it back and forth.

If you're still unsure how much force to use when brushing and flossing, feeling the proper pressure may help. Ask your dentist to show you the best methods for both brushing and flossing. 

Not drinking water
Water isn't only good for your body, it's also imperative for oral health. Dehydration leads to dry mouth, a condition that causes a host of oral health issues. Tooth discoloration, gingivitis and bad breath have all been linked to dry mouth. 

As such, drinking plenty of water throughout the day is imperative for protecting your mouth. In addition to warding off dehydration and its consequences, drinking water can wash away some bacteria that may otherwise erode tooth enamel or cause discoloration. For this reason, you should rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking, especially when foods and beverages may stain. 

Protecting your smile and overall oral health is your mission, should you choose to accept it. We hope you will, so your teeth with have a long, healthy life.