Even though most people have been brushing their teeth since they were old enough to properly hold a toothbrush doesn’t mean they haven’t pickup some bad habits along the way. Brushing your teeth is a habit of repetition, and it doesn’t take much to start repeating the same bad mistakes over and over.
When you consider how important brushing is to not only your oral but overall health, it only makes sense to take a step back and ensure you correct any bad brushing habits you may have picked up over the years. To help you keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong for a lifetime, here are three common brushing mistakes to avoid.
Not Brushing Often Enough
Considering the hectic schedules most people keep today, the mornings never seem to have enough time. For parents, getting ready for work while ensuring the kids eat breakfast and get to school on time demands most of the morning attention. It’s little wonder then that most people only brush their teeth once a day, right before heading off to bed. While brushing before you go to sleep at night is important, you also need to brush when you wake up in the morning.
As you sleep, plaque, a stick bacteria that grows on your teeth, begins to accumulate in the mouth. Plaque feeds off the foods you consume throughout the day to produce acids that slowly dissolve away at your teeth’s enamel. Given time, and these plaque acids can wear small holes in your teeth where bacteria can begin to accumulate, eventually leading to the development of tooth decay and cavities.
By failing to brush in the morning, you allow plaque to continue to buildup on your teeth throughout the day. The more plaque on your teeth, the more acid gets produced when you eat. Brushing in the morning removes excess plaque so when you do eat less acid gets produced.
Not Brushing Long Enough
Since, like most people, you don’t stand in front of a clock timing yourself while brushing, you probably don’t know how long you actually spend cleaning your teeth. Well according to a study conducted by the American Dental Association, the average American spends only 30 second brushing each time they pick up their toothbrush. While 30 seconds might seem like enough time, the ADA actually recommends that people spend at least two minutes brushing.
So even if you brush twice a day, odds are you only spend about a minute actually brushing. This is only a quarter of the time you actually need to spend brushing if you want to properly clean your teeth.
You probably don’t consider 30 seconds enough time to clean yourself in the shower, so why would that be enough time to clean your teeth? To make sure you spend enough time brushing, consider placing a clock in an area of your home that is easily viewable from your bathroom sink.
Not Changing Your Brush Often Enough
A toothbrush is the most important tool in the war against tooth decay and gum disease. But eventually, a tool does wear out. The American Dental Association recommends that people replace their toothbrush every three months. This ensures that the bristles of your brush remain in good enough condition to properly clean your teeth while brushing.
Your mouth is also host to billions of individual bacteria. Every time you brush, a few of these bacteria make their way onto your brush where they begin to fester. While there is very little chance of you ever getting sick from an old toothbrush, there’s no reason to risk it considering the need to change brushes anyway.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer who learned about proper brushing technique from Dr. Todd Beck, a dentist in Portland, Oregon.
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