Are You Brushing Your Teeth All Wrong?

Are You Brushing Your Teeth All Wrong?

If you brush your teeth twice a day as recommended, you should be off to a good start to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Or so you assume. In reality, improper brushing techniques can thwart the benefits of your well-intentioned efforts. Poor habits like brushing too hard, using the wrong toothbrush, and even brushing too soon following meals can actually lead to long-term damage to your teeth and gums.

At Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, located in Leesburg, Virginia, Dr. Haidy Messih offers thorough dental checkups that include teeth cleanings and comprehensive examinations. At these bi-annual examinations, he can assess the results of your at-home program and identify problems before they become serious complications. 

To assist in your home hygiene routine, Dr. Messih in this blog reviews proper brushing and the following five everyday bad habits to avoid.

1. Using an improper toothbrush

The best toothbrush is one that’s head fits comfortably in your mouth, allowing you to reach all your teeth easily.  

Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, make sure to replace your toothbrush or an electric toothbrush’s head every two to three months on average to ensure optimal cleaning power.

Worn bristles are abrasive on your gums.

2. Incorrect brushing technique

The best way to start is by positioning your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. 

The correct technique includes brushing with a gentle back-and-forth motion, in short strokes, not wider than the width of a tooth. 

Be sure to hit all the surfaces of your teeth as you move around your mouth. This includes the inner surfaces, outer surfaces, as well as, chewing surfaces of your teeth. To clean the inside surfaces, position your toothbrush vertically and tilt it against your teeth. Then, brush with gentle up-and-down strokes. 

3. Aggressive brushing

If you brush your teeth too hard, as many people do, the brush bristles can wear down the protective outer shell of your teeth, called enamel. This can lead to “toothbrush abrasion,” a condition that causes sensitivity to cold food and drinks. 

Think you may be an aggressive brusher? Check the bristles on your toothbrush. If they look flattened, you are likely are. Replace the concept of “brushing” with that of “massaging” to achieve a gentler approach. 

Using medium and hard bristles can also strip enamel and cause issues even with average pressure. Go for soft bristles, which clean effectively and reduce the chances of dental problems. 

4. Abbreviated brushing 

It doesn’t take much to make sure you’re brushing long enough. Some electric toothbrushes are programmed to alert you when you’ve reached the two-minute mark. If you use a manual toothbrush, you can use the timer on your cellphone to help you recognize how long to brush. 

5. Brushing too soon following eating

It may be surprising, but brushing your teeth immediately following eating can damage your teeth. Acid from food attacks your tooth enamel and the layer under it, called dentin. If you brush while the acid is still on your teeth, you risk pushing the acid deeper into your teeth and possibly damaging the plaque and dentin. 

Instead, rinse your mouth with water after a meal to remove the acid. Then, you wait 60 minutes after a meal to brush. The waiting period gives your saliva enough time to do its job and naturally remove destructive acid before you brush. 

Find out more about proper brushing techniques and other ways to keep your smile healthy by having a routine dental checkup. Contact our office by calling 703-659-2805 or request an appointment online today. 

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