Avoid These Oral Hygiene Mistakes At All Costs


2014-04-23 16:30

We all know that we should brush our teeth at least twice a day, but proper dental hygiene doesn't stop there. What about the rest of your mouth? And how long has it been since you bought a new toothbrush? Below are some common oral hygiene mistakes you should avoid.

Not flossing

A common admonition by dentists everywhere is that toothbrushes can’t reach certain places, such as between teeth and under the gum line, so it is important to floss at least once a day. The American Dental Association also suggests flossing before you brush to make brushing more effective. Since flossing removes plaque between the teeth, the fluoride in toothpaste has a better chance of reaching between teeth.

Only brushing your teeth

If you only brush your teeth, you’re neglecting about 50 percent of the mouth’s surface: the tongue, gums, roof, and walls. The tongue, especially, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If the tongue is covered in a white film, it can indicate an autoimmune condition or thrush, an infection caused by the candida (yeast) bacteria. Not brushing the whole mouth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Not changing your toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush approximately every three months, since the brush loses its flexibility and the bristles wear out over time. However, Dr. Richard Price, a consumer advisor for the ADA, says it’s more important to change your toothbrush based on the shape the bristles are in, and not by the date on the calendar.

“You need to replace your toothbrush when the bristles spew in different directions,” he said.

If you want to clean your toothbrush in between replacements, Dr. Price says you can soak it in alcohol, mouthwash, or a 50/50 solution of water and hydrogen peroxide to kill the germs. Another option is to dip the toothbrush in boiling water for five to 10 minutes.

Brushing right after eating

According to Dr. Timothy Chase, a New York City-based oral health expert, brushing immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods increases the risk of tooth abrasion. After eating, the acids in the food or drink weaken the enamel of the teeth. Dr. Chase recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush; during this time, the saliva secreted by the mouth can neutralize the acids.

Not visiting the dentist often enough

Generally speaking, you should visit the dentist every six months, although the number of visits may vary based on different factors. People in certain high-risk categories, such as smokers, diabetics, and people with gum disease, should visit the dentist every three or four months. However, if you practice good oral hygiene and your dentist doesn’t find any gum disease or cavities for a few years, you may be able to lengthen the amount of time between visits.