Two minutes, twice a day. That’s the basics of what we learn about brushing our teeth. And these are important messages – they are the fundamentals of what keep bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay at bay. But many people make common mistakes while brushing which can harm that effort:
Using a frayed toothbrush
If you use your brush like you should, its bristles will eventually fray and curve. It’s a normal part of the tooth brushing process. When that happens, it’s important to replace your brush. When the bristles fray, not only do they become softer than they are designed to be, but they are pointed at the wrong angle, making that toothbrush no longer as effective as it should be.
Missing your tongue
Your tongue is like a tiny carpet, and it can be a home to a whole host of different bacteria living between those little bumps. While using a tongue scraper is best for your brushing routine, using your toothbrush will work as well. Don’t forget that tongue!
Brushing too hard
Whether it’s the dishes, the shower or the countertops – we’re used to scrubbing hard to get things clean. But cleaning your teeth means removing plaque – a substance that is sticky, but also soft. Pressing down hard while you brush your teeth can cause your gums to recede, which can cause a multitude of problems, including sensitivity to hot or cold and susceptibility to cavities.
Shaving several seconds off your brush time
It’s easy to put that toothbrush away before your two minutes are up. After all, you brushed hard and you’re 10 minutes late to get out the door (or really want to get into bed). Does missing 30 seconds really make that much of a difference? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The two minutes guideline is based on brushing for 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth (upper left, upper right, lower right, lower left). Each of those 30 second intervals is important to cleaning your teeth well. An easy trick to make sure you’re fulfilling the full two minutes is to sing the Star Spangled Banner twice in your head. Better yet, use the toothbrush timer feature on the Delta Dental mobile app!
Using the wrong sized toothbrush
Have a smaller mouth? That regulation adult-sized toothbrush might be a little too big to do a thorough clean job. Toothbrushes should comfortably fit in all your mouth’s nooks and crannies to ensure you’re getting all the spaces you need to. Most stores sell a variety of toothbrush sizes. Look for brushes with more compact heads. If you're an adult with a smaller mouth, it is completely fine to select a child or teen-sized toothbrush to use!