6 Common Tooth Brushing Mistakes

6 Common Tooth Brushing Mistakes

Chances are you spend less time thinking about brushing your teeth than you do actually brushing your teeth, but the lack of attention you pay could lead to dental problems down the line. You may have learned to brush your teeth incorrectly, and your bad dental habits could cost you your teeth down the line. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth.


Brushing too hard or for too long can not only scratch your teeth and gums, but it actually doesn’t even make them any cleaner. That’s because there’s a tipping point at which brushing stops removing plaque and goes from being helpful to being harmful. Where is that point exactly? Well, a study by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne’s School of Dental Sciences revealed that the optimum toothbrushing session is two minutes long with a force of 150 grams — about the weight of an orange. Anything more and you run the risk of causing more harm than good.


Again, two minutes is the time to aim for. If you brush for less time, you’re probably leaving plaque that could’ve been removed.

Poor Technique

If you brush with long horizontal strokes, you might cause abrasions on your teeth and gums. It’s recommended that you use short strokes, aim the toothbrush toward the gum line at a 45-degree angle and use either a vertical or circular motion.

Neglecting the Interior of Teeth

The outward-facing surface of your teeth is the only one that other people see, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean the inner surface. After all, cavities can develop from either side. The most neglected tooth surface supposedly is the inner lower front row. One tip for avoiding underbrushing in certain areas: start your toothbrushing sessions in different spots, so you won’t run out of steam in the same area each time.

Using a Bacteria-Laden Toothbrush

What you brush with is as important as how you brush, so take care of your toothbrush by rinsing it thoroughly after using it; otherwise, you risk having bacteria grow on the bristles, which will then go into your mouth the next time you brush. But don’t leave your toothbrush too wet after rinsing; that can also cause bacteria to form. Make sure to shake out the excess water, and consider using a cap that allows air inside. Finally, change your toothbrush at least every three to four months — sooner if the bristles become worn out — because the older it is, the more likely it is to grow…yes, bacteria.

Brushing Right After Eating

Brushing directly after eating sounds like a healthy habit, but you might end up harming your teeth, particularly if you eat or drink something acidic, like fruit or soda. Acid temporarily weakens the enamel on your teeth, and if you brush during this vulnerable time, you might damage it. It’s recommended you wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing.

(Sources: The Daily Mail, WebMD, US News & World Report, SlideShare.net)