Five Mistakes You Make When Brushing Your Teeth (And How to Fix Them)

1. Using the wrong toothbrush

“To be effective, your toothbrush has to fit into your mouth comfortably,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her cosmetic dentistry office in Phoenix. If you have to stretch your mouth open to fit your toothbrush in, it’s the wrong toothbrush. The handle should be comfortable and help you reach all the surfaces of all the teeth in your mouth.

2. Bristles that are too hard

According to WebMD, bristles that are too stiff can damage teeth and gums. Bristles should be strong enough to remove plaque and soft enough to feel comfortable. Think about your kitchen floor. It’s smarter to use a soft broom than a rake to get the floor clean. Your toothbrush works the same way—a softer brush can get into more spaces to remove plaque.

3. Brushing across your teeth

Brushing your teeth in a motion parallel to the floor doesn’t clean, but it can wear grooves in your teeth, which collect more plaque. Brush your teeth with an up-and-down motion, paying attention to the gum line and both sides of the teeth—back and front, as well as top.

4. Starting at the same place

 People get into habits, including where to start brushing your teeth. People also get bored, and the last section you brush gets the least attention. “Varying where you start automatically varies where you get bored, and that gives you a better chance of hitting all areas of your mouth during the day,” says Dr. Ford.

5. Not letting your toothbrush dry

If you travel, you may be putting bacteria into your mouth every time you brush. Wet toothbrushes grow bacteria. If you brush your teeth, then put the brush in a travel case or plastic bag, you could be creating a bacterial incubator. To let your toothbrush dry, put it in a case with aerating holes or carry two toothbrushes and let one dry completely before using it.

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Photo credit: dsevilla / Foter / CC BY-NC

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