Today is National Brush Day, which seems like a great time to remind you of the importance of good oral hygiene. You may not put much thought into it, since brushing your teeth is something you’ve done for years. Still, there are some common tooth brushing gotchas – things that keep you from doing a really good job when you brush.
We’re happy to offer advice on brushing, including recommendations for toothbrushes and toothpaste, at your regular exams. In the meantime, check out our list of common gotchas and see if some of them apply to you:
- Not Taking Enough Time – You probably feel pretty proud of yourself if you brush at least twice a day, every day. And you should! However, many people rush these brushing sessions. To get the best results, brush a full two minutes every time. Some toothbrushes have timers. Or you can just set the timer on your phone. To keep it fun, you can find two-minutes songs you like and brush to the music.
- Missing Important Spots – Many of us focus on the front sides of our teeth and the chewing surfaces. But it’s important to brush the back sides of teeth that face the tongue. Brushing your tongue (or using a tongue scraper) is a good idea too, as lots of bacteria accumulates there. Another important area that is often missed when brushing is where your gums meet your teeth. Bacteria collects there and causes gum disease if not removed.
- Not Using the Right Brush – Never use a toothbrush with hard bristles. They won’t get your teeth any cleaner. In fact, they can damage your enamel, leaving you more prone to cavities. Make sure your brush also has a head that fits easily into your mouth, so you can get into all of the nooks and crannies with it.
- Brushing Too Hard – Applying too much pressure is a common gotcha. A gentle touch is all that’s needed. Brushing too hard – especially with hard bristles – can cause your enamel to erode. This not only makes you more susceptible to decay, it can affect how your teeth look. They may develop a yellowish appearance that won’t go away with teeth whitening treatments.
- Keeping Your Toothbrush Too Long – It’s tempting to hang on to your toothbrush when you get it “broken in” just the way you like. But we recommend switching to a new on every three or four months, sooner if you’ve been sick or if the bristles show obvious wear. You can keep your brush in great shape by taking good care of it. Rinse all the toothpaste out of it after use and store it upright in an open spot where air can easily circulate around it.