Counterproductive Brushing Habits & Fixes

Mom and daughter brushing teeth

If you brush your teeth at least twice a day, you’re doing great. Regular brushing is the key to preventing tooth pain & expensive procedures. But incorrect brushing can harm your smile. Below are a couple of issues that may be harming your teeth, all while you thought you were doing them good.

Wait After You Eat

You may have heard of brushing your teeth after you eat. While it’s a good idea, an article from Columbia University Medical Center suggests you wait, especially after eating acidic foods.

Those foods & drinks—such as fruits, candy, coffee & soda—will weaken your enamel temporarily while the acid is still in the mouth. If you brush at that time, you are using an abrasive technique while your enamel is at its softest. Rinsing out with water just after eating, then waiting 30 minutes to allow the acid to leave & your teeth’s enamel to remineralize is a good solution. Another tip is to use softer bristles, though this applies generally.

Don’t Brush Too Hard

Brushing too hard can create problems for your smile too. While it may seem intuitive to brush harder for a deeper clean, your toothbrush doesn’t work that way.

Pressing too hard can bend the bristle so that it doesn’t even scrub your teeth at all. While your gums need to be stimulated by brushing to keep a healthy gumline, brushing too hard can cause gums to recede, exposing sensitive areas of your teeth. It can even damage your enamel.

The best technique is to keep just enough pressure on your brush to keep it against your teeth & use your motions, not force, to clean.

Evolving Advice

Even dentists haven’t created the perfect tooth brushing technique, according to an article in University College London. Conflicting advice has led to criticism of some recommendations, though it’s still possible to find a healthy balance.

In the article, some dentists are cited as not even seeing a point to brushing directly after eating, as even waiting five minutes after eating allows for not only acidic foods to settle, but for bacteria to start producing its own acid.

As far as brushing too hard, the article says, “The most commonly-recommended technique involves gently jiggling the brush back & forth in small motions, with the intention of shaking loose any food particles, plaque & bacteria. However, no large-scale studies have ever shown this method to be any more effective than basic scrubbing.”

It can be daunting to try & keep up with the latest findings, but a good fallback is trusting what your body tells you & keeping a regular habit. If your mouth feels like it could use a brush after a meal, you should listen to yourself. Staying regular with your habits ensures no material is allowed to build up too easily.

Beyond dental articles, your dentist is the best person to consult on adjusting your dental habits. They have the expertise & are familiar with your teeth & can better direct—& if needed correct—your brushing habit.