Ten Teeth Cleaning Mistakes You May Be Making
Throughout our lives, brushing our teeth becomes a menial task implemented in the daily routine that seems to come with a simple rule that if it is being done, it is working. However, what many people unfortunately do not know is that there are many important aspects to the teeth cleaning routine that can be done incorrectly, and thus can bear painful and financial consequences. Visiting Mina Levi DDS Dentist San Francisco can be helpful in determining proper brushing aspects. Below we discuss ten mistakes you may be making in your dental hygiene routine and why they are important.
1. Incorrect Toothbrush Bristles. Who knew that the type of bristles on your toothbrush mattered? If the bristles on the toothbrush are too hard or too stiff it can affect the gums and can also damage your tooth enamel. Therefore it is recommended that you use a softer-bristled toothbrush to avoid this kind of damage. To soften a stiff bristled tooth brush, run the toothbrush under hot water before using it to clean your teeth. However, if the bristles are too soft, they may not be strong enough to help remove plaque buildup which can cause gum disease.
2. Not Using the Proper Toothbrush. There are many options when it comes to choosing a toothbrush, but these options are limited in choosing the right toothbrush. When using a manual toothbrush, a soft-bristled choice is better because it causes less damage to the gums and the enamel. Also, be sure to choose a manual toothbrush that has a comfortable handle size. If the handle is the wrong size, it can cause tiring of the hand and thus a poorer quality brushing technique. When using an electric toothbrush, choose one with settings that fit your needs such as a sensitivity mode. Although electric toothbrushes may help with the cleaning, the benefits of using an electric toothbrush are lost when brushing technique is of poor quality or is undervalued.
3. Not Brushing Enough. One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is not brushing enough times a day or not brushing for long enough during each session. Not brushing at least two times a day allows for more dental plaque to build up on the teeth and increases the risk for dental caries and gum inflammation, which can eventually lead to cavities and gingivitis. Each brushing session should last at least two minutes in order to ensure that all of the teeth and all of the teeth surfaces are being cleaned well. If the sessions are too short, some of the surfaces of the teeth may go un-cleaned, and cavities can develop.
4. Brushing Too Much. Usually we hear that we aren’t brushing enough, but brushing too much can also be an issue. Brushing more than three times a day can irritate the gums and begin to erode the enamel of the teeth. Brushing too many times can also expose some of the tooth root to increased irritation which further aggravates the gum tissue. Two to three times a day is the ideal brushing routine.
5. Brushing Too Hard. Brushing too hard or with too much pressure can be damaging in the same way as using a toothbrush with very course bristles. Brushing too hard can irritate the gums and cause erosion of the dental enamel, making your teeth more easily prone to cavities. It is suggested that you brush softly, and if you are “squishing” the bristles of the toothbrush against the teeth you are brushing too hard.
6. Not Brushing Correctly. Even if you choose a good quality toothbrush and are brushing your teeth three times a day, if you are not executing the proper technique problems can occur. The toothbrush needs to be angled around 45˚ toward the gum line in order to make sure the plaque is being removed from the space between the gums and the teeth called the “gingival sulcus”. Brushing should be done in short, vertical strokes or in small circular motions, avoiding horizontal strokes. It is also very important to make sure that all of the surfaces of the teeth are brushed thoroughly, and that the tongue is also brushed to ensure fresh breath. Improper technique can lead to the buildup of plaque on certain teeth surfaces or in the gingival sulcus, causing dental caries and gingivitis. It may be helpful to use plaque disclosing tablets every now and then to ensure that the proper technique is being utilized and every surface is being cleaned. To see proper brushing technique and advice, see this video.
7. Brushing the Same Way Every Time. Many people have their own brushing routine, but brushing the same way each time you brush is problematic. As the brushing session goes on, we get bored or tired and put less effort into cleaning. So if you start the session by brushing the same quadrant first, this one quadrant will be getting the most attention, and the last quadrant cleaned will be underprovided for.
8. Skipping the Inside Surfaces of Teeth. Many people focus on the outside surfaces of the teeth because they are the ones that are visible and are more easily accessible than the insides of the teeth. However, skipping the inside surfaces of the teeth or saving those surfaces for the last part of the brushing session every time can allow for plaque to build up on one side and can sit there for such a long time it develops into a hard calculus that is difficult to remove without the assistance of a professional. This build-up causes periodontal disease and can increase dental caries.
9. Not Replacing the Toothbrush Regularly. Many people only replace their toothbrush when they get lost while traveling or get dirty. However, it is important to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis such as every three months. After a while, the bristles become worn down and lose their effectiveness in cleaning, becoming more stiff and even breaking apart. It is also recommended that toothbrushes should also be replaced after suffering from an illness such as strep throat, because the bacteria may linger or grow on the toothbrush and be re-implemented into the body with further use. However, recent studies have shown this may not be completely necessary if the toothbrush is disinfected properly.
10. Not Letting The Toothbrush Dry Out Between Sessions. If a toothbrush is not allowed to dry between teeth brushings sessions, it can cultivate bacteria in the bristles which will go back into your mouth and can cause illness. Also, remaining wetness on the toothbrush can allow the bristles to warp as you use them and will decrease their effectiveness. After each brushing session, shake out the moisture and let dry. Covering the top of the toothbrush after shaking out moisture with a cap that allows air in to the cap may also be helpful in the drying process and can help prevent the growth of oral bacteria.