Confession time: We’ve been slacking on that whole brushing for two full minutes thing our childhood dentists taught us. In fact, after talking to a few incisor experts, we’re pretty ashamed to admit that our oral hygiene routines could use a major freshening up. And we’re guessing we’re not alone. Here are the five biggest mistakes people make when it comes to caring for their smiles.
1. You’re Not Flossing
We all know we should be flossing, but is it really that bad if we skip it? The answer is a definite yes, say experts. “A lot of people have an aversion to flossing, but there is a wealth of evidence to support the additional benefits of flossing and brushing, as compared to brushing alone,” says June Harewood, dentist and assistant professor of dentistry at Columbia University Medical Center. “The combination of brushing and flossing lowers the risk of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease in which your gums are irritated, red and swollen.”
2. You’re Using the Wrong Toothbrush
Sometimes it seems like your teeth don’t really feel clean unless they get a good vigorous scrub. But using a toothbrush with stiff bristles to get a better buff might be doing more harm than good. “Dentists often recommend using a soft toothbrush with the goal of avoiding damage to the enamel and the gums,” says Harewood. “Many studies have linked hard-bristled toothbrushes to increased enamel wear and gum recession.” In other words, a hard-bristled brush puts you on the fast track for sensitivity. Not a good thing.
3. …And the Wrong Technique
But it’s not all about the bristle, says Harewood. “The stiffness of the toothbrush is less important than the brushing technique,” she says. To do it right, keep the brush at a 45-degree angle and scrub with alternating back and forth and rolling strokes.
4. You’re Not Using Fluoride
Forget the obsession with whitening. It’s more important to make sure your toothpaste and mouthwash have fluoride in them, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel, according to the American Dental Association.
5. You’re Brushing at the Wrong Times
It’s not all about the morning and evening routine. But it’s also not as simple as brushing after meals. A new body of research suggests that brushing immediately after a meal – especially if what you ate was acidic – is actually doing more damage to your chompers. Brushing too soon can actually push the acid from the meal into your teeth. If you want to do a post-snack scrub, wait at least 30 minutes.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com