10 Toothbrush Mistakes -- and How to Fix Them

IN THE NEWS

Brushing your teeth is not something adults think about much, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.  This handy WebMD article has a good checklist of things to do and things not to do. 

 

1. Choose the Right Tool

Choose the right toothbrush.  You should not have to open your mouth too much to put it in your mouth.  Also, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a soft brush.  A manual or electric toothbrush is up to the individual’s preference, but if you have a disablity of some kind, an electric one might be useful. 

 

2. Give It Time

Brushing twice a day is a minimum and three times a day is better.  Brushing should last at least 2 minutes spending 30 seconds on each of the four quadrants of the mouth (top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left).

 

3. Don’t Overdo It

Too much brushing might wear down tooth enamel and damage your gums.  Similarly, brushing too hard could damage the tooth enamel. 

 

4. Perfect Your Technique

You need to hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use an up-and-down motion with short strokes.  Side-to-side strokes can scrape and cause damage to your gum line.   Make sure to brush inner and outer tooth surfaces as well as your tongue. 

 

5. Switch Things Up

Switching up your brushing routine may ensure that you don’t get lazy about it.  Use a different starting point to make sure your brushing is thorough.   

 

6. Pick Products Wisely

Plain flouride toothpaste is probably best.  It has all you need for proper hygiene and none of the whitening particles that can sand away the tooth structure.  If you want the whitening benefits, you can use the fancier toothpastes intermittently. 

 

7. Control Your Sour Tooth

Water is always best, but if you do consume energy drinks, and diet sodas -- even healthy things like apple juice, orange juice, and coffee – be aware that they have acid that can soften tooth enamel.  If you do need to brush after these items, try to wait 30 minutes. 

 

8. Keep It Clean

Always rinse your toothbrush since germs from your mouth and teeth can stay on it if you don’t.  It will also get rid of leftover toothpaste that can harden bristles.   Just rinse it with water and let it air dry rather than in a case.  A moist brush is more likely to grow bacteria. 

 

9. Avoid Potty Mouth

While most of us store our toothbrushes in the bathroom, it should be kept in a standing holder far from the toilet or sink.  Also, don’t let toothbrushes from other family members or residents touch each other. 

 

10. Let It Go

The ADA suggests you get a new brush every 3 or 4 months.   Bristles degraded in any way will not clean teeth as well. 

 

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DR. LAWRENCE J. LEHMAN, D.D.S.

GENERAL DENTISTRY

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