Maintaining good dental health is as simple as brushing your teeth twice a day and moderating sugar intake, according to dentists. However, despite the apparent simplicity of this advice, many people make several common mistakes when caring for their teeth. Here, a dentist highlights these errors to help you keep your teeth in excellent condition.
1. Rinsing with Mouthwash After Brushing:
- It’s a common habit to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing your teeth. However, using mouthwash immediately after brushing can dilute the benefits of fluoride in your toothpaste. Fluoride is essential for remineralizing tooth enamel, reversing early tooth decay, and preventing cavity-causing bacteria growth. It reduces your cavity risk by 25%.
- Rinsing right after brushing can remove the fluoride residue that protects your teeth from harmful bacteria. Instead, after brushing, spit out the toothpaste but avoid rinsing immediately. If you use mouthwash, use it at a different time than brushing. Removing fluoride can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
2. Brushing Immediately After Eating:
- To maintain a bright smile and optimal dental hygiene, experts recommend waiting at least 60 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Brushing too soon after eating can damage the enamel layer on your teeth, especially after consuming acidic foods or drinks like fizzy sodas.
- Give your teeth time to naturally remineralize, especially after consuming acidic items. Ideally, wait 30-60 minutes before brushing to let your mouth clean itself and allow your teeth’s surfaces to reset. Even seemingly harmless options like “diet” soft drinks, fruit juices, and smoothies contain acids that can attack your teeth’s surfaces, raising the risk of erosion and tooth decay.
- Tooth decay occurs when bacteria form a sticky layer called plaque on your teeth and gradually damage the tooth’s surface.
3. Neglecting Interdental Brushes:
- Food particles and plaque can accumulate in the gaps between your teeth over time. Neglecting these areas can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, causing soreness, swelling, and bleeding gums.
- Interdental brushes have small bristled heads designed to clean these hidden areas. Aim to use interdental brushes at least once a day, preferably before brushing. If the spaces between your teeth are too tight for the brush, use floss.
- When brushing, direct the bristles of the brush down toward the gumline for bottom teeth and up toward the gumline for top teeth at a 45-degree angle. This allows the bristles to reach slightly below the gumline and ensures thorough cleaning.
4. Skipping Nighttime Brushing:
- While it may seem obvious, research shows that more people in the UK brush their teeth in the morning than before bedtime. Brushing twice a day is crucial, and skipping nighttime brushing can have adverse effects.
- When you don’t brush your teeth before bed, bacteria have a night-long feast on food sugars and mouth acids while your body’s saliva defenses are reduced. Saliva helps wash away sugar and fight bacteria.
- Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes. Ensure thorough cleaning of all tooth surfaces, especially before bedtime when saliva production is lowest. Saliva helps eliminate the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.
Maintaining proper dental hygiene is crucial for long-term oral health. By avoiding these common brushing mistakes, you can ensure your smile remains bright and healthy.