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Mistakes you may make when brushing your teeth

Rodney Baier, DDS
September 18, 2023

You’ve probably heard it all your life, “brush your teeth twice each day to keep cavities away”.  This is great advice because starting with your very first baby teeth, proper oral care is the best way to prevent tooth decay.  However, the simple instruction to brush is not enough!  If you think proper dental care is common knowledge and practice, then the fact that more than 60% of our teenage kids show tooth decay might surprise you. Find out if you are already an expert, and check out some quick facts below to discover the top mistakes made when people brush their teeth.

Time: Are you brushing long enough?

The average person brushes their teeth for only 20-45 sec.  However, you should be aiming for a full two minutes of brushing each time you brush.  This allows your toothbrush enough time to complete its job.

Frequency: Are you brushing often enough?

The instructions to brush twice a day were actually developed years ago as a marketing strategy by the toothpaste companies.  Although it’s not a bad benchmark, it doesn’t take into consideration each individual’s specific activities.  The number of times that you brush your teeth should actually be based on how many times you consume food or drink and your genetic predisposition.  Some people need to brush, and floss, more than twice a day to maintain a healthy oral cavity.


Yes!  Research shows that flossing at least once a day, preferably at night, is recommended to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.

Brush your tongue.

Some of the most offensive bacteria in your mouth can live on your tongue.  This can cause oral infections and bad breath.  Lower your chances of both by using a tongue cleaner or your toothbrush to clean your tongue after brushing your teeth.

Not too hard…

Some people take the “scrubbing the dishes” approach to brushing their teeth.  However, unlike removing food from plates, brushing your teeth with a lot of pressure is not better.  You might be removing unwanted bacteria and food, but you could also be causing your gums to recede!  Receding gum lines can lead to further complications with your teeth and gums over time.  When it comes to pressure, it is best to use a gentle approach and leave the scrubbing in the kitchen.

What angle are you taking?

You may be brushing at the wrong angle!  If you are holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, then you are getting the most effective clean.  This enables you to easily reach areas below and above your gum line.

Replace: How often do you replace your toothbrush?

Those disappearing lines on your toothbrush are a great indicator for replacement.   When you notice a diminishing line, it is probably time to replace it.  You should be replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head at least every three months.

We make superior oral health our priority at Rodney Baier, DDS.  If you have any questions about how your brushing habits can be improved, please feel free to give us a call or ask during your next appointment.

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