6 biggest mistakes people make when brushing teeth
If you brush your teeth twice a day, for “two minutes”, there’s still a good chance you could be getting it wrong. Bupa Dental’s Executive Clinical Consultant, Dr Mark Psillakis, reveals the greatest mistakes people make when it comes to toothbrushing.
1. Not brushing teeth for the full two minutes
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2. Brushing at the wrong angle
I often find patients have spotless teeth from the gum line up, but they have inflamed gums. This tells me they’re probably brushing at the wrong angle. Remember to be extremely gentle with your gums - all that’s required is a little jiggle! That brings me to mistake number three…
When people clean their pots and pans, or their floor tiles, a harder scrub can mean a better clean. Teeth are very different - scrubbing too hard can damage your teeth!
I often give children some advice that can work for adults too. Pretend to be a ballerina when brushing the front and sides of their teeth, gently dancing across the surface. When it comes to the biting surfaces of your teeth, make like a truck driver and scrub as hard as you want!
4. Rinsing after a brush
This habit goes back for generations, so many people don’t realise that you should skip rinsing your mouth with water after brushing. Plaque produces acid and acid pulls the minerals out of the tooth.
The fluoride in toothpaste re-mineralises the tooth – which is a good thing. But as soon as you rinse your mouth with water, you’re rinsing away that fluoride. If you just spit without rinsing, you’re giving your teeth a little extra fluoride protection.
No matter how well you brush, the toothbrush bristles don’t get right down in between the gums. Some of my patients tell me they use a toothpick instead. While a toothpick may help you get rid of a piece of meat stuck between your teeth, it won’t do the same job as flossing.
Good dental hygiene involves flossing every day, but it’s important to be gentle. If your gums are bleeding, you’re either traumatising them or they’re inflamed. Try to use a sawing action to get past the contact point: slide the floss down the tooth on one side, up to the contact point, then back down the other tooth and out.
It’s hard to put a specific time on how long you should use a toothbrush before you throw it out, but the general rule of thumb is three months.
Happy brushing and don’t forget to “live mouth smart”!