You most certainly brush your teeth, as you’re keen on having a pleasant breath and a nice, white smile.
But are you brushing correctly?
Are you doing it at the right time?
Here is a guide to common brushing mistakes, and how to do it right.
You are brushing at the wrong time
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, though three times is better.
Brushing before bed is a must. Removing bacteria from your mouth prevents them from attacking your teeth overnight.
In the morning, brush your teeth before breakfast, to remove the bacteria and plaque that has accumulated overnight.
You can also brush after lunch, but not more. Brushing too often can damage your gums.
You’re brushing and spitting
Once you’ve brushed your teeth, you probably rinse your mouth with water to get rid of the toothpaste flavour.
This is a mistake. You should not rinse your mouth, merely spit out the toothpaste.
This will leave a coating of fluoride on your teeth, which helps prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the chemical processes of plaque bacteria.
You’re not brushing for long enough, or too long
A quick once over will not do.
You should brush 2 to 3 minutes each time.
Anything less, and you may not properly clean your teeth.
Brushing for too long may irritate your gums.
You are using the wrong toothbrush
If you shop for your toothbrush on the basis of price or colour, think again.
The key thing in choosing a toothbrush is head size and bristle hardness.
The brush should be the right size for your mouth, not too big. You can tell it’s too big if you’re struggling to open your mouth wide to brush.
Buy a brush with bristles that are soft, as hard bristles can irritate your gums, especially if you brush too hard.
The bristles should be able to remove the plaque but not damage your teeth.
You’re brushing the wrong way
The recommended way to brush your teeth is not with horizontal strokes along your gums.
Instead, the current method recommended by the British Dental Health Foundation is to place the brush at 45 degrees against your gum line and move it in small circular movements on all the surfaces of every tooth.
Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line.
Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.
To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the front part of the brush.
Finally, brush your tongue. This will remove bacteria from its surface and freshen your breath.
You’re not rinsing your toothbrush enough
Bacteria grows on your toothbrush, so it is important to rinse it before and after use.
It will also remove any toothpaste that may be left on the brush.
After rinsing the brush, shake out the moisture, as a moist brush is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Your toothbrush is too old
The longer you use your toothbrush, the more bent and misshapen the bristles will be, which undermines their effectiveness.
You should replace your brush every three months, or once your bristles have lost their flexibility.
You’re not flossing
You may be diligent at brushing your teeth, but if you’re not flossing regularly, you’re failing to clean your teeth properly.
Bits of food will get stuck between your teeth in places where the bristles don’t reach. The food will decay and bacteria will attack your teeth and gums.
The only way to remove food may be by flossing, which is why you should make a habit of doing so daily.
Buy the right floss for your teeth – waxed if you have closely spaced teeth, or tougher floss if you have rough tooth edges.
Make sure you use enough floss, as reusing it may simply move bacteria between teeth.