Mistakes You Make Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth: It’s something you (should) do twice a day, every day. But it’s not as a simple as just scrubbing and rinsing.Timothy Chase, D.M.D., a New York City-based cosmetic dentist, says these are the flubs most people make:
1. Using the wrong toothbrush
All toothbrush bristles have a rating — hard, medium, soft, and extra soft. Just ignore the medium and hard bristles altogether, says Chase. “I see a tremendous amount of [gum and tooth] damage from brushes that are not soft enough. Imagine you have a broom and you’re trying to get dust out of a corner. If you had a really stiff broom, you’d wind up scuffing up the wall. A soft broom would take the shape of a corner and remove the dust easily,” he says. The same goes for your toothbrush.
2. Using an old brush
You should buy a new toothbrush or, if you use an electric toothbrush, replace the head every three months. If you forget, pay attention to the bristles. When they begin to feel soft and lose their original shape, it’s time to pitch it (or at least retire it to the cleaning cabinet).
3. Not going in circles
Every dentist will say it: The correct way to brush your teeth is in small circular movements. Remember that the only thing you should be removing is leftover food debris — not brushing so hard that you ruin your enamel. “Most people use a sawing motion back and forth, which can cause damage to the gums and tooth abrasion. This can lead to root exposure and sensitivity,” Chase says.
4. Using whitening toothpaste
“You don’t get a great result from whitening toothpaste,” warns Chase. “Instead, use a cavity-fighting toothpaste, and then use trays or white strips independent of brushing.” Another tip: Only squeeze out a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. “A good rule of thumb is half the brushing surface,” he says.
5. Forgetting your tongue
There is a lot of bacteria on your tongue, which can lead to bad breath and tooth decay. As you’re brushing your teeth, remember to scrape the surface of your tongue in a forward motion. This will pull all of that bacteria forward before you finish.
6. Not flossing
“Flossing is 40% of the job,” says Chase. You need to floss daily. The American Dental Association says that flossing before or after brushing is fine, but if you floss before, the fluoride from your toothpaste has a better chance of reaching in between teeth.
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