11 Mistakes You’re Making When Brushing Your Teeth

Close up. Senior Man Brushing Teeth in Bathroom.


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Close up. Senior Man Brushing Teeth in Bathroom.

Brush It Real Good

Don’t let brushing your teeth become so ingrained into your daily routine that you overlook the most effective ways to do it. With so many debunked myths swirling around the health and wellness realm, it’s sometimes hard to notice the difference between an actual mistake and hearsay. Check out this list of the most common mistakes you just might be making while brushing your teeth.

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At home

Brushing Too Hard

Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like there was a thick, almost fuzzy layer of grime coating your teeth? Although it seems like there is a pound of “yuck” clinging to your pearly whites, scrubbing your teeth with too much rigor is not the way to go. Brushing too hard is one of the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth, but it’s actually the motion of your brushing rather than the power behind your brush that cleans your teeth. If you brush too hard, you can break down your tooth enamel and cause your gums to become overly-sensitive.

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Oral hygiene while wearing braces, braces, home care kit, dental instruments, dental floss, toothbrushes, hourglass. Dental concept on a blue background. Front View
Tatsiana Volkava/istockphoto

Not Brushing Long Enough

We get it: brushing your teeth is part of your routine and it becomes mundane. You don’t think about how long you’re spending doing it and you might not even know how long you should brush for. The average person spends about 45 seconds brushing their teeth, but dentists recommend spending at least two minutes to ensure enough time to remove all the food residue and plaque. Setting a timer is a great way to make sure you’re spending enough time at the sink during your dental care routine!

Pouring Mouth Washing into Cap

Rinsing With Water

A lot of people rinse their mouth out with water once they finish brushing their teeth. This common mistake can actually hinder all of the work being done by your toothpaste. Since water dilutes fluoride, it makes your toothpaste less effective. If you have to rinse, try using mouthwash instead of water.

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row of different toothbrushes, on white with copy space

Using a Too-Hard Toothbrush

Choosing a toothbrush should not be like choosing a mattress or a pillow, basing your selection on whether you prefer one that is on the softer side or feels more firm. Just like it isn’t the power behind your brush that cleans your teeth, the firmness of your toothbrush also has nothing to do with how shiny it can get your mouth. You can chip away at your enamel and gums if the toothbrush you’re using is too hard, causing serious discomfort. 

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Dentist explaining how to brush teeth

Incorrect Brushing Technique

As we’ve been reiterating, what cleans your teeth effectively is the motion you use when brushing. Rather than using a side-to-side motion when brushing your teeth, you should focus on making small circles with your brush. Not only is this the best way to actually clean your teeth, but it prevents damage to your enamel and gums.

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Brush your teeth with a toothbrush

Brushing in the Same Pattern Every Time

Yes, you want to make sure you use the correct brushing technique, making small circles as you brush, but you want to also pay attention to the pattern you’re following and mix things up each time. If you’re starting on the upper right side of your mouth and ending at the lower left every time, chances are you’re missing the same small areas each day. Changing up your pattern can ensure you’re hitting every crack and crevice.

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Profile view of two toothbrushes, one new and one used. Useful in comparison concepts, new vs old, used or brand new, before and after. Background texture for personal care, medical, healthy lifestyle
Sergi Calaff Bayes/istockphoto

Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Frequently Enough

This one is important and overlooked far too often: make sure you replace your toothbrush or your brush head often enough. Dentists consider this sweet spot to be at least every three months. Any time you get sick, you should also change out your toothbrush once you’re better since germs and bacteria can live on your toothbrush for weeks and get you sick all over again.

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Headshot of attractive young man brushing teeth and tongue

Not Brushing Your Tongue

Don’t forget to brush your tongue during your daily dental hygiene routine. Your tongue is commonly the source of bad breath and it can harbor germs and bacteria. You can brush it with your toothbrush or use a tongue scraper once you’ve finished brushing.

toothbrush in open drawe

Storing Your Toothbrush in the Wrong Spot

Whatever you do, refrain from storing your toothbrush out in the open in your bathroom. If you’ve heard that there’s bacteria that can make its way to your toothbrush from doing that and thought it was a myth, we are here to tell you it’s not. Not only does leaving your toothbrush exposed attract bacteria, there have been studies done to prove that keeping your toothbrush in the same, open vicinity as your toilet can actually get trace amounts of fecal matter on your brush. Not exactly an ideal flavor to brush with. Instead of keeping your toothbrush out on the sink, store it in a drawer or medicine cabinet. 

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Maintaining healthy habits together

Not Flossing

When you go in for a cleaning and your dentist asks you if you’ve been remembering to floss, try not to get annoyed the way you did as a kid when your mom asked if you cleaned your bedroom. Flossing really is important. Your toothbrush can only reach a certain area of your teeth while floss can get into smaller spaces, preventing both cavities and bad breath.

Morning routine

Brushing Too Often

You can absolutely have too much of a good thing and brushing your teeth is no exception. Just like using a toothbrush that is too hard or brushing too hard can wear down the enamel on your teeth, so can brushing too frequently. Dentists recommend brushing twice a day, no more or less.

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