When it comes to preventing cavities, you already know that you should brush and floss every day. These habits keep your pearly whites healthy and bright by preventing plaque from building up and causing decay and infection. Even if you’re brushing and flossing every day, though, it’s all too easy to do things incorrectly. Here are five teeth cleaning mistakes you might be making that make your dentist in San Marcos cringe.
Only Brushing Once Per Day
Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is constantly forming in your mouth. If you go more than about 12 hours without brushing (and flossing), plaque starts to harden into a yellowish material called tartar. Tartar can only be removed by the special instruments that dentists or dental hygienists use, giving it ample time to wreak havoc on your smile. Luckily, you can prevent plaque from turning into tartar by brushing your teeth at least twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.
Rushing Through Brushing
The average person only spends about 45 seconds brushing their teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), though, you should be brushing twice daily for two minutes each. If you have trouble remembering to brush for that long, you may want to purchase an electric toothbrush that comes with a two-minute timer. Some of them even alert you every 30 seconds when it’s time to switch to a different quadrant of your mouth.
Rarely Replacing Your Toothbrush
There’s a reason your dentist gives you a free toothbrush in your goody bag at every checkup. The ADA recommends switching out your toothbrush every three to four months. After that, the bristles of your brush can easily become frayed and worn, rendering them not nearly as effective at cleaning your teeth. You should also replace your toothbrush (or brush head if you use an electric toothbrush) after you’ve been sick. There’s a chance that germs could linger on your toothbrush and reinfect you.
Brushing Too Hard
Scrubbing your kitchen counter with more force might clean it more efficiently, but the same principle does not apply to toothbrushing. Brushing too hard (or using a hard-bristled brush) may actually do more harm than good. It can wear away your gum tissue and tooth enamel, neither of which grow back once they have been lost. This leaves you more vulnerable to sensitivity and other damage. Think of brushing your teeth more like polishing an eggshell rather than sanding down a floor.
Forgetting to Floss
As important as daily brushing is, it only cleans three out of the five surfaces of your teeth. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque from between your teeth and prevent it from turning into tartar. Set a reminder to floss at least once a day – preferably before bed so that bacteria don’t damage your teeth and gums while you’re sleeping.
In addition to seeing your dentist twice a year for a checkup, brushing and flossing correctly is crucial in keeping your smile healthy. For more advice on at-home teeth cleaning, ask your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. J. Robert Donnelly is a dentist in San Marcos, TX with decades of experience. Not only has he earned a Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry, but they also awarded him their Lifelong Learning & Service Recognition. You can trust that Dr. Donnelly is passionate about continuing education and staying up to date on the latest information in dentistry. To learn more about proper teeth cleaning, visit his website or call (512) 396-5225.