Tooth brushing is a daily ritual that many people carry out, but do not consciously think about it. Part of the reason for this is that over time, teeth brushing becomes an automatic habit, one to which conscious attention is not made. It is interesting to note that quite a number of dental problems stem from poor brushing techniques – and this simply means that it is likely you have been brushing your teeth wrongly.
Proper teeth brushing techniques are key to great oral health, and go a long way in preventing cavities and gum disease. Most importantly, there are ways to fix common teeth brushing mistakes with easy-to-add changes. Below are some of the mistakes to look out for and to remedy.
1. You are Using the Wrong Brush:
This may come as a surprise, but how you shop for your toothbrush could easily mark the genesis of wrong brushing techniques. At the core of the correct way to brush lies the need to choose the correct type of toothbrush.
Generally, the handle should be comfortable enough to hold so that you are able to brush for the recommended number of minutes without losing steam. Secondly, it is advisable to use a small to medium-sized toothbrush that will not cause abrasion on the gums.
Ideally, there are two types of toothbrushes to choose from: the manual toothbrush and the electric toothbrush. The difference between the two boils down to the mode of operation and personal preferences which, as expected, vary from one person to another.
Different studies, however, show that electric toothbrushes may be preferred to manual ones as they are more effective in the removal of plaque. This is very important for people who are predisposed to poor oral health and dental conditions. If in any doubt, do consult your dentist to get professional advice on the toothbrush that suits your needs.
In addition to the type of tooth brush that you use, look out for the bristles. Some tooth brushes have straight bristles while others have angled ones. Which of the two works better? While it may be difficult to give a straight answer to this aspect, the efficiency of the bristle is often related to the technique of use than the structure of the same.
The recommended type of bristle is that which is either soft or medium, preferably those with round-ended nylon bristles. Avoid using extremely hard bristles that cause damage to the gum and increase the risk of bleeding. In fact, soft bristles are more effective because they are able to bend and get rid of dirt under the gum. Hard bristles on the other hand, do not bend effectively and often wear down the tooth structure. Make sure, however, that the bristles are strong enough to get rid of plaque.
Lastly, the size of the toothbrush head also matters, and this is especially for those with a tiny mouth. The last thing you want to do when brushing your teeth is to have to open the mouth too wide to accommodate the size of the brush. In essence, look out for the type of toothbrush, bristles, handle as well as the size of the head.
2. You are not Brushing or Long Enough:
Many people clean their teeth twice daily, but it is important to be aware that even with this frequency, it is likely that you may be brushing improperly. The American dental Association recommends teeth brushing for two minutes. This seems like an easy thing to do, until it is not. Many people fall extremely short of this time period, and sadly, do not even realize it. It is easy to think that you brush for two minutes, but if you timed yourself, you may realize that you do it for just about 30 seconds. Indeed the perception of how one brushes their teeth is pretty inaccurate. There are two ways in which you can fix this: using an electric toothbrush or timing yourself manually. An electric toothbrush, in addition to been more efficient, has an inbuilt timer that will let you know when the two minutes elapse. Alternatively, set your phone timer to two minutes and tap start. Stop when the timer beeps to signal the end of the two minutes.
3. You are Brushing too Hard:
Do you brush your teeth like you would clean a scorched pan? If so, you are brushing way too hard than is recommended, but if this is wrong, why do many people do it anyway? Researchers found that there is the odd contentment that people experience, that their teeth are clean when they brush hard.
The truth is that this is not only a fallacy, it also poses great risk to your teeth and gums. To understand this, consider that the primary reason why we brush our teeth is to get rid of plaque. Plaque is the bacterial film that forms on the teeth, and is generally soft and sticky. What this means is that plaque can be removed effectively by brushing gently for the recommended two minutes.
Brushing too hard stresses the gums and causes it to pull away from the teeth. This is referred to as receding, and has potentially severe effects on oral health. Receded gums expose the root of the tooth, and this is what leads to extreme sensitivity to both hot and cold foods. In addition to this, the exposed root is more predisposed to cavity development because it lacks the hard covering on the outer part of the tooth. To fix this, make an effort to brush as gently as you can.
4. You use your Toothbrush for far Longer than you Should:
Take time to look at your toothbrush. Are the bristles bent out of shape and curved at an awkward angle? If your answer is yes, then know that this is one of the common teeth brushing mistakes that you should deal with for proper oral health. Old toothbrushes typically have splayed out bristles which are ineffective as they do not point in the proper direction even with the correct routine.
What’s more, such brushes have extremely soft and ineffective bristles which you can be sure, do not get the job done. The solution for this lies in using a new tooth brush every three months. The same is applicable for young kids to cultivate proper dental care routines at a tender age. If anything, kids often chew on the bristles and their toothbrushes may not last the aforementioned three months.
5. Wrong Brushing Techniques:
Poor brushing techniques are one of the most common teeth brushing mistakes among many people. Poor teeth brushing means that you keep forgetting to brush certain parts of the mouth.
As a general guide, brushing should touch on the inside, outside and top surfaces of the tooth alongside the tongue, gums and roof of the mouth. This does not happen often, either due to ignorance or out of habit. Below is a simple but detailed outline on using the right techniques to brush your teeth.
- Put the head of the toothbrush against the teeth. Bend the brush so that the bristles lie at a 45 degree angle to the gum area. You will then move the brush in gentle circular motions severally. Do this for the all the teeth surfaces.
- The second technique involves brushing the outer surface of the teeth, all the while ensuring that the bristles maintain an angle against the gum.
- Repeat the second technique, but this time focusing on the inner teeth surfaces.
- Next, clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth, paying close attention to the premolars and molars where most of the chewing takes place.
- One of the most challenging aspects of these techniques is that the inside surfaces of the teeth may easily be forgotten. For this reason, keep the brush in vertical position and proceed to make gentle circular motions with the front part of the brush.
- Remember to gently clean the tongue as well as the roof of the mouth before rinsing your mouth.
For all these activities, it is no surprise that the recommended time to brush your teeth is at least two minutes.
In line with the wrong brushing technique, many people usually start brushing at the same point. This habitual tendency can only mean one thing: the teeth left till the last moment are likely to be cleaned improperly. For this reason, dentists recommend that you start brushing your teeth at a different place every time. This rotational basis means that all teeth will be cleaned with the same gusto, thus reducing the chances of cavity development.
Another important point to note is that while it is tempting to brush immediately after eating, this goes against the basic tenets of oral health care. The reason for this is that after eating, food digested by the salivary enzymes produces acids.
Brushing immediately adds to the abrasive action of the acids produced, and this significantly erodes the tooth structure. Ideally, you should wait about 20 minutes before going in as this provides enough time for the saliva to work on the acid produced. Since this is not always possible especially when one is in a rush, one of the things you can do is to make sure you rinse your mouth using warm water to get rid of the acids before brushing.
6. Using too Much Toothpaste:
Contrary to popular belief using lots of toothpaste is not necessarily an effective way of brushing your teeth. While this may not harm your teeth, it has an impact on how long you brush your teeth, particularly for those who do not fancy the foamy sensation that fills the mouth.
As a general guide, you only need enough toothpaste to fill the length of your toothbrush’s head. More is not necessarily better. This is also applicable for the kids because they need a pea-sized amount which gradually increases as they grow older.
Note that the type of toothpaste you use also matters. Have a look at the compounds present in the toothpaste. Any product that boasts to manage tartar can prove to be extremely harsh on the teeth. This is because an increase in the amount of whitening particles tends to wear out the structure of the tooth.
To keep on the safe side, consider using fluoride toothpaste. If you would like white pearly teeth, your best bet is to switch up between old fluoride paste and whitening toothpaste to protect your oral health. Alternatively, consider making a dental appointment for whitening purposes.
7. Take Care of your Toothbrush:
How you store your toothbrush could be placing you at risk of poor oral health. This is a common concern, yet one that is extremely subtle in its presentation. Many people store their toothbrushes in the bathroom, but this exposes you your brush to collecting germs in the air. To prevent this from happening, get a toothbrush holder and then use a holder for your brush. Additionally, do not allow toothbrushes to touch one another to counter the risk of infection.
Another common mistake that people make is failure to rinse the toothbrush properly after use. Having eliminated germs and bacteria from the toothbrush, the next logical step ought to be the elimination of the same from the brush. If you do not do this, you retain the germs on the brush and risk re-introducing them to your mouth.
This accumulated dirt often causes the bristles to stick together. So, remember to rinse your toothbrush well after which you should let it air dry before storing in the casing or holder. The purpose of air-drying is to reduce bacteria proliferation within the brush.
Once you are aware of the most common teeth brushing mistakes, you can easily make improvements to maintain your oral health using the simple tips outlined above. Brush at least twice daily (where one of these times is before bedtime) for two minutes using a brush with soft but firm bristles. In case of any doubts, book your dentist for an appointment.