Hopefully, you've been brushing your teeth ever since you were a small child. It's hard to imagine that you could possibly be doing something wrong when you've been doing it for so long. But the truth is that many people learn poor brushing habits in childhood and carry them into their adult lives. And because you've been doing it for so long, you may not even think to question your brushing techniques or strategies. Take a look at some surprisingly common tooth-brushing mistakes and find out if you need to make some adjustments to your tooth-brushing routine.
Brushing Too Hard
When you're concerned about your oral hygiene, it may seem like a good solution to scrub your teeth with all of your might, the same way you might scrub the bathroom tiles when you want to make sure that you get rid of any germs and bacteria that might be hanging on.
However, it is possible to brush too hard when you're brushing your teeth. Overly aggressive brushing can damage your gums and the enamel on your teeth. This can cause tooth sensitivity because receding gums can expose more of the tooth root and thin, weakened enamel can leave the inner part of the tooth more exposed to the elements.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but scrubbing your teeth aggressively also doesn't help make your teeth appear whiter or brighter. In fact, it's the enamel on top of your teeth that is white and glossy. The dentin underneath the enamel is yellowish and dull, and if you're brushing hard enough to scrub the enamel away, you're exposing more of that color.
If you think that you're brushing too hard, try using a brush with softer bristles and brushing gently instead.
Using the Same Toothbrush for Too Long
When was the last time you switched out your old toothbrush for a new one? The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every three months, but dentists say that many of their patients fail to follow that recommendation.
The frequency with which you should change your toothbrush really depends on how often you brush your teeth. If you brush twice a day, the three-month recommendation is probably about right, but if you brush more or less often, you may need to change the brush more or less frequently. A good way to gauge whether you need a new toothbrush is to check the bristles on your current one—if most of them are bent, the brush has probably lost its efficacy, and you need a new one.
Brushing Immediately After Eating
You probably know that food particles and sugars that cling to your teeth after eating can cause cavities, so it may seem to make perfect sense to brush as soon as you've finished your meal. But, surprisingly, this may not be the best plan of action for your teeth.
What you may not know is that eating tends to lower the pH levels in your mouth. This means that your mouth is more acidic immediately after eating than it is during other times of the day. Brushing your teeth during this time might dislodge any stuck food particles, but it also spreads the acid in your mouth around on your teeth—and acid can also eat away at your tooth enamel. Your best bet is to wait half an hour or so after eating for your pH levels to normalize, then brush your teeth.
If you're concerned that your tooth-brushing habits might not be as good as they could be, your best bet is to discuss them with your dentist during your next checkup and dental cleaning. Your dentist can give you pointers based on your individual dental health and habits and make sure that you're cleaning your teeth as effectively as possible. For more information, contact a dental office like Family Dentistry Of Woodstock.