Good oral hygiene is paramount to maintaining your teeth well into your old age. But it’s not just our teeth and gums that benefit from good dental hygiene practices. Research shows that an unhealthy mouth is not only linked to ailments like gum disease; it can also increase your risk of other serious health problems, like heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and even pregnancy complications.
Despite how important it is to practice good oral hygiene, many people are making all-too-common mistakes in their brushing routine. Aside from the obvious ones, such as forgetting to floss, there are other bad practices that you may not be aware of. Here are 5 oral hygiene mistakes that you could be making and how to remedy them.
1. Using a Toothbrush for too Long
It’s often clear when most everyday items need replacing: lightbulbs burn out, toothpaste runs out etc. However, knowing when to replace your toothbrush may not be so obvious.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months, possibly sooner if you’ve been using it whilst ill (especially if it sits in close proximity of other people’s toothbrushes). The bristles can also be a good indicator; if they’re starting to look frayed they won’t clean your teeth properly.
2. Not Brushing for Long Enough
Brushing your teeth should be done routinely twice a day, but how long should you be brushing for to get the best results? Most dentists agree that the optimal time for brushing should be no less than two minutes. This may not sound like a very long time, but most people don’t even come close to that benchmark.
Next time you’re brushing, set a timer and see how long you typically brush for. If it’s less than two minutes, then you should brush for longer to reach that time. You can split the time to one minute for both the top and bottom row of teeth to make it easier. Remember: if you’re not brushing for long enough, then your teeth won’t be clean enough.
3. Brushing too Much
On the flip side, you can over brush your teeth. Brushing too often or too rigorously can erode your tooth enamel as well as cause damage to your gums. When this happens, teeth become more sensitive and prone to decay.
Brushing your teeth is fundamentally done to remove plaque. However, it’s the brushing technique, not the hardness of brushing, which removes it. A gentle, circular brushing motion should be employed to sweep the plaque away.
4. Rinsing Your Mouth After Brushing
A lot of people make the mistake of rinsing their mouths with water straight after brushing. But the fluoride in toothpaste is very good for your teeth and shouldn’t be rinsed away completely. After spitting the toothpaste foam in the sink, don’t rinse the excess out of your mouth. Instead, let the fluoride sit on your teeth and do what it’s designed to do.
5. Brushing Straight After Eating
A lot of people assume that they should brush their teeth immediately after having something sugary or acidic. But this could actually be doing more harm than good. Eating or drinking things that are bad for your teeth could weaken them, but brushing straight afterwards might actually brush away bits of enamel, increasing teeth sensitivity and decay. Instead, wait an hour or so before brushing.