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Oral Hygiene Mistakes to Avoid

December 5, 2022

Did you know that more than 80% of people get at least one cavity by age 34? If you think that genetics is the only factor influencing your likelihood of developing tooth decay, think again. The best dentist in Denver, CO, highlights the most common oral hygiene mistakes that can cause this problem.

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Oral Hygiene Mistakes You Might Be Making  

MISTAKE #1:  Only Brushing Once Daily  

While most people are naturally compelled to brush their morning breath away, others neglect nighttime brushing. Unfortunately, teeth have the most amount of food particles stuck on and in between them by the end of the day. In addition, saliva production is the least active during sleep. Since saliva helps bathe the teeth clean, a dry mouth causes tooth decay-causing plaque and bacteria to build up on teeth overnight.  

For this reason, you'll want to brush at least twice daily: first thing in the morning and before bed. It helps to leave a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or set the alarm on your phone to help you remember to brush. You should synchronize your oral care if you have medication times occurring daily.  

MISTAKE #2: Not Taking Your Time Brushing  

Even if you’ve committed to brushing your teeth twice daily, your efforts are useless if you’re not spending enough time brushing. Tartar and biofilms will continue to build up on your teeth if you brush for less than two minutes. Consequently, experts recommend taking your time. Try setting a timer or singing your favorite song to ensure you brush each tooth for a few seconds.  

MISTAKE #3: Brushing Immediately After a Meal or Snack  

The enamel, your teeth’s protective outer layer, softens whenever you’re eating due to exposure to sugars and acids in your food and beverage. Brushing immediately after a meal or snack can cause considerable damage to your tooth enamel. If you want to keep your enamel healthy, it’s best to avoid brushing within 30 minutes to an hour after eating or drinking sweet or acidic.  

MISTAKE #4: Improper Toothbrush Storage  

Did you know that your toothbrush has saliva and bacteria on it? I could also have blood if you’re an aggressive brusher. Improper toothbrush storage can cause damage to your teeth because it encourages bacteria to thrive. Instead of storing your toothbrush in a drawer, you’ll want to store it upright to allow it to dry without promoting bacteria growth.  

You're not alone if you're guilty of storing your toothbrush in the bathroom. Unless you change your ways, your toothbrush will have bits of human feces on them. Each time you flush the toilet, you spray its contents in all directions. Do yourself a favor by storing your toothbrush in a cabinet or closed area where it can dry without being exposed to micro-particulates from your toilet.  

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MISTAKE #5: Forgetting to Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly  

Using an old toothbrush causes you to reintroduce bacteria into your mouth and potentially causes infections or tooth decay. Since an older toothbrush won't be able to clean plaque off your teeth and at the gumline as effectively, you'll want to toss it out and use a new one every three to four months or as soon as its bristles start losing their stiffness and bend out of shape.  

MISTAKE #6: Using the Wrong Kind of Toothbrush  

Contrary to popular belief, using a toothbrush with hard bristles doesn’t mean you’ll get cleaner teeth and gums. While a hard-bristled toothbrush is sometimes necessary at certain times, using it every day can cause gum irritation, gum recession, enamel wear, tooth sensitivity, and tooth decay. Unless you have a specific reason to use a hard-bristled toothbrush, dental health experts recommend using a soft-bristled one.  

If you have dexterity issues due to arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebral palsy, or Parkinson’s disease, you’ll want to use an electric toothbrush and a water flosser. Although flosser pics are excellent for quick jobs on the go, you shouldn’t use them as a substitute for dental floss. Flosser pics won’t effectively clean the sides of each tooth because they’re not flexible enough to curve around these areas.  

MISTAKE #7: Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard  

Many people mistakenly believe that aggressive scrubbing ensures better cleaning. Unfortunately, brushing your teeth too hard can cause gum recession and enamel abrasion. Moreover, both conditions can lead to tooth structure loss and sensitivity issues.  

You might be brushing too hard if your brush head is frazzled in as little as one to two months. In this case, consider using an electric brush with a pressure indicator. Since removing particles from your teeth’s surface doesn’t require vigorous scrubbing, you’ll want to be gentle when you brush your teeth.  

MISTAKE #8: Forgetting to Floss at Least Once Daily  

Your toothbrush can't reach certain areas between your teeth. Research shows that it misses up to 35% of your teeth's surfaces. For this reason, flossing is the only way to remove debris buildup and avoid substantial oral health problems. Since flossing at least once daily allows you to clean these hard-to-reach places thoroughly, it prevents plaque and tartar buildup that causes tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease.  

When flossing, curve the floss into a C-shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Clean the sides of each tooth by gently moving the floss up and down. You should leave dental floss in areas where you'll see it throughout the day so you won't forget to reach for it.  

MISTAKE #9: Not Cleaning Your Tongue Each Time You Brush  

A mucus-like coating of bacteria accumulates on your tongue even with thorough brushing and flossing. Consequently, you’ll want to use your toothbrush or tongue scraper to clean your tongue from back to front to eliminate bacteria buildup. Don’t forget to clean your toothbrush afterward by rinsing it thoroughly.  

MISTAKE #10: Skipping Regular Dental Appointments  

Although leaving work early to visit the dentist can be a pain, doing so will save you real pain in the future. Even with the best at-home oral hygiene routine, issues can still arise.  

Ensuring regular dental appointments helps keep your teeth and gums healthy because it allows your dentist to detect issues and address them before they become more significant problems. For this reason, experts recommend seeing the dentist every six months for routine checkups and professional dental cleanings.  

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