For many of Dr. Jarvis and Goldwyn’s patients, brushing has become a habit they don’t even need to think about. After all, spend most of your life practicing something and odds are you’re going become pretty comfortable with how it’s done. However, just because patients have spent years brush doesn’t mean they know how to brush correctly.
As with any activity, you can start to develop poor habits when brushing that can increase your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. To help improve your oral health, here are a few common toothbrushing mistakes patients should try to avoid.
Using the Wrong Brush
You need to think about a variety of factors when selecting a brush that includes more than just its color. First, consider the size of your mouth. If you find yourself having trouble opening your mouth wide enough to fit the brush in easily, your probably using a brush that’s too large for your mouth.
The handle of a toothbrush should also comfortably fit into your hand, and should feel similar to holding a spoon. The more comfortable with how a brush feels in your hand and mouth, the more likely you are to use that brush correctly.
Selecting the Wrong Bristles
Even though you might not give it much thought, the bristles on your toothbrush can make a big difference on your teeth’s health. Hard bristles wear down tooth enamel, eventually exposing the delicate inside of a tooth, an area referred to as dentin.
Hard bristles also irritate gum tissue, which can eventually lead to gum recession and tooth loss. When purchasing a toothbrush, look for brands that feature the American Dental Association seal of approval.
Sticking with the Same Brush for Too Long
The toothbrush is your best weapon in the war against gum disease and tooth decay. However, even the best tools eventually wear out from excessive use. The ADA recommends that you change out your toothbrush once every three months, or whenever the bristles begin to show signs of wear.
Not Spending Enough Time Brushing
The ADA recommends you spend at least two minutes brush twice a day. Despite this recommendation, the average time most people spend brushing is around 30 seconds. This adds up to one minute a day or only a quarter of the amount of time you should spend brushing each day.
Since it can be hard to tell how much time goes by, Dr. Jarvis and Goldwyn recommend that patients keep a timer in or near their bathroom so they can accurately tell how much time they spend brushing.
Even though it’s commendable to take your oral care seriously, brushing too aggressively can actually damage the health of your teeth. Brushing until your gums become sore or begin to bleed can cause your gum tissue to become inflamed, which can lead to gum recession. Brushing too aggressively with a toothbrush that has hard bristles can also speed up how quickly you damage your teeth’s enamel.
Not Brushing the Inner Tooth Surface
In addition to spending the right amount of time and using the right amount of pressure, it’s important that you brush the entire surface of your teeth. That includes the front, back, and sides of your teeth. The majority of people only brush the surface of the their teeth that is visible when smiling, and forget to brush the less noticeable areas of the mouth. Unfortunately the plaque on these hard to see areas is just as damaging as plaque that builds up on the front of your teeth, and needs to be removed.
Starting in the Same Spot
Most people start brushing at the same point in their mouth each time they begin their oral hygiene routine. The problems with starting repeatedly in the same spot is that you’re more likely to lose focus as you continue brushing, so the teeth you begin with are more likely to receive your full attention than the teeth you brush at the end. By changing starting positions, you improve the chances of not neglecting any teeth as you slowly lose interest in brushing.
Failing to Use Mouthwash
Plaque builds up everywhere in the mouth, including hard to reach places where your brush cannot properly clean. Using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing can eliminate those pockets of bacteria in your mouth missed while scrubbing your teeth, tongue, and gums.
If you have any questions about the correct way to brush, feel free to ask either Dr. Jarvis or Goldwyn during your next appointment.