Brushing too hard can damage your teeth and irritate your gums. Too much pressure might even lead to scratches and infections if you do it frequently. Plaque however is surprisingly loose and soft, making its removal easier than you think. It’s only difficult to remove when it hardens to tartar, but you won’t be able to reach that tartar anyway; that’s a job better left to your dentist or hygienist.
Sharing your toothbrush
Germs. The flu virus can stay on a surface for multiple hours. Toothbrushes also harbor pneumonia, HPV, and even bloodborne pathogens. The bacteria that causes cavities — otherwise known as streptococcus mutans — is also super contagious.
You keep your toothbrush past its expiration date
Your toothbrush needs to be changed every three or four months.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you change your toothbrush at the start of each season. Not only do your toothbrushes accumulate germs over time, the bristles also tend to get frayed or broken with extended use. These older bristles won’t clean your teeth the way they should, promoting plaque and germ accumulation that can harm your teeth and gums. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s time to get a new one.
You’re brushing too quickly
Brushing your teeth, no matter how long, is better than letting them rot. But you’re not really helping your teeth if you don’t do it for the recommended two minutes. The average American only brushes their teeth for 45 seconds, less than half the suggested amount of time. When you rush to brush, you’re leaving behind countless germs, plaque, and food that could wreak havoc on your mouth. On top of that, you need to give the fluoride in your toothpaste time to work its magic on your teeth. It needs longer than 30 seconds to improve your enamel.
You brush too soon after a meal
It’s still recommended that you brush after a meal, but brushing too soon after you eat can be counterproductive. When we eat, the acidity from the food lingers in our mouths after we’re done. If you introduce abrasive toothbrushes immediately following a meal, you’re giving those acids better access to sensitive parts of your tooth. This will contribute to enamel erosion and lead to more sensitive teeth in the future.
To prevent these acids from wearing down your teeth, wait at least 15 to 20 minutes before brushing.
This will enable your saliva to neutralize and break down the acids in your mouth before they’re worked into the fine lines on your teeth. If you really cannot wait that long, try rinsing your mouth out with plenty of water before brushing. This will help expel some of the acid before you bring on the brushing.
You don’t clean your tongue
Brushing your tongue will help prevent bad breath and any lingering bacteria in your mouth. The bristles of your toothbrush should do a fine job at loosening potentially harmful bacteria. For added germ expulsion, rinse with a mouthwash when you finish brushing.
You use hard bristles
Soft bristles aren’t for babies; in fact, softer bristles are better for your teeth and gums than both medium- and hard-bristled toothbrushes. They bend more easily, making them great for the gum line. They’re less abrasive than hard bristles so they won’t damage your teeth. For people with weakened enamel or sensitive teeth, ultra-soft bristle toothbrushes are the best option around.