Are You Brushing Your Teeth the Wrong Way?

Mar 5

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 | posted by: Dr. Yee

Here are the top tooth brushing mistakes people make:

1. Using the wrong style of brush: Some people still like a medium or hard toothbrush, but soft, round-ended bristles are actually better for you.  When plaque is soft it will come off with a soft brush.  Once it hardens into tartar or calculus, it won’t come off with brushing, no matter how hard the tooth brush, however you can damage the delicate gum tissue by using the harder types of brushes.

2. Not replacing an old brush: You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months for dental health, but many people go way beyond this point.  When the brush is splayed out it can’t properly clean all the surfaces of your teeth, in addition a lot of the power brushes lose cleaning power as the brush head ages.

3. Brushing back and forth: Often, the brushing mistake has to do with technique.  Brush in a circular motion, angling the brush at 45-degrees to the gum line and focus on a few teeth at a time.   This allows you to clean under the gums, where most plaque is present and causes the most damage.   This also aids in not over-brushing.

4.Moving all around: People don’t always follow a set order as they move around their mouth brushing.  Brushing this way we tend to miss various surfaces of the tooth because it’s hard to know where you have and have not brushed.  You should use a systematic approach.  There are four quadrants of the mouth and three surfaces to brush per tooth, you should brush all the surfaces of one quadrant of the mouth at the same time.

5. Brushing too aggressively: Not a lot of force is needed to do a good job at brushing your teeth.  Most bacteria and food particles that remain on teeth are very soft in texture.  Gentle brushing is all it takes to get the job done.  If you use an electric toothbrush, let the brush do the work, that’s what it was designed to do, it does not need the added force of your heavy hand.   It could have negative effects such as gum recession.

6. Not brushing long enough: Most people think they brush 1 to 2 minutes, when in reality it is more like 30 seconds.  It is important to access all areas of the mouth and all tooth surfaces to effectively clean the remaining bacteria and food.

7. Using too much toothpaste: The flip side of the previous tip is that most of us slather way more toothpaste onto our brush than we actually need.   A pea size amount is all that is needed, the rest is wasted.

8. Not using an electric toothbrush?: For the most thorough brushing job, most dentists agree that it’s time to make the switch if you haven’t already.  There is no possible way to brush your teeth as thoroughly with a manual toothbrush.  Many have timers to ensure you are brushing long enough.  It makes brushing easier, just hold the brush in the proper position and let the brush do the work.