When it comes to taking care of your teeth, there is no replacement for great dental hygiene practices. Yet most people unknowingly make at least one mistake that could lead to tooth decay, gum disease, or even tooth loss. While Meriem Boukadoum, DDS of 54th Street Dental stands at the ready to bring your mouth back to optimal health, correcting these common hygiene habits can prevent problems in the future.
1. You're brushing too hard.
Most people brush their teeth like they're trying to scrub a stubborn stain off of a concrete floor. Using too much pressure while brushing can wear away vital gum tissue that serves to keep your teeth protected at the roots. Ideally, your toothbrush should not show signs of wear after several months. If your toothbrush looks like it has seen better days after just a few weeks, you're brushing too hard. Consider switching to a super soft toothbrush and use your fine motor skills while brushing.
2. You're not brushing long enough.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. But if you ever want to feel how long two minutes really is, set a timer the next time you brush. You're likely only brushing your teeth for 30 second or less every time. Better yet, set the timer for one minute and concentrate on your upper teeth. Then set it for an additional minute and concentrate on your lower teeth for even cleaning.
3. You don't change your toothbrush often enough.
Did you know that the American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every three to four months or whenever the bristles begin to fray? If you are brushing as often and as long as you should, your toothbrush loses its effectiveness after three or four months. Put a reminder in your calendar every three months to change out your toothbrush. Be sure to change it sooner if you or someone in your household has been sick and you store your toothbrushes together. Speaking of storing toothbrushes...
4. You are storing your toothbrush incorrectly.
Once you're done brushing, what do you do? Do you toss it in a drawer? Leave it on the counter next to the toilet? Put a plastic cap on it? A study published in the International Journal of Scientific Research in 2017 found that toothbrush contamination can lead to tooth decay and illness in the very young and very old. The primary reason for such contamination was storing toothbrushes with plastic caps on top so they could not dry, allowing toothbrushes to come into contact with contaminated surfaces (like a counter by the toilet) or tossing toothbrushes into drawers where they could not air dry. Ideally, your toothbrush should sit upright in a cup to allow water to drip off and the bristles to dry quickly.
5. You are not drinking enough water.
Turns out, water is not just great for your skin and organs, it can help you keep your mouth healthy. Drinking water not only prevents tooth staining that often happens with coffee or wine, but according to the ADA, water also helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria and eroding acids left behind by the food you eat and the things you drink.
Even if you avoid these common dental hygiene mistakes, you should still visit Dr. Boukadoum regularly. Give 54th Street Dental a call at 212-333-3200 to schedule your exam and start to create new dental hygiene habits that will keep your mouth healthy for years to come. You can also request an appointment online if you prefer.