It’s a new year, which means it’s time to shed those bad habits that you may think are not beneficial. We all know to brush our teeth each morning and night, but there’s a lot more that goes into maintaining a healthy mouth. If you want the cleanest mouth around, you can still correct those wrong habits.
To start, check out this list of common habits that might be causing harm to your teeth and gums.
Unfortunately, brushing too hard can actually damage your teeth and irritate your gums. Too much pressure might even lead to scratches and infections if you do it frequently. Plaque is surprisingly loose and soft, making its removal easier than you think. It’s only difficult to remove when it hardens to tartar, but you won’t be able to reach that tartar anyway that’s a job better left to your dentist or hygienist. Besides, plaque on the surface of your teeth struggles to form with regular brushing and flossing. Instead of trying to power wash your teeth, gently massage your molars, canines, and bicuspids with the only the softest strokes of the softest toothbrush.
You might be tempted to steal your partner’s toothbrush if you can’t find yours.
All in all, it’s pretty gross to share your toothbrush with another person. It doesn’t seem that bad at first, but sharing your toothbrush with your spouse or partner can introduce a slew of germs your body simply isn’t prepared for.
You might find yourself getting sick more often since the flu virus can stay on a surface for multiple hours. Toothbrushes also harbor pneumonia, HPV, and even bloodborne pathogens. The bacteria that causes cavities otherwise known as streptococcus mutans is also super contagious. If your partner doesn’t have the cleanest mouth, your own dental hygiene may suffer accordingly
Did you know your toothbrush needs to be changed every three or four months?
Not only do your toothbrushes accumulate germs over time, the bristles also tend to get frayed or broken with extended use (we’re looking at you, hard brushers). They might also start to look dirty or discolored. These older bristles won’t clean your teeth the way they should, promoting plaque and germ accumulation that can harm your teeth and gums. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s time to get a new one.
When you need to rush out the door, you might quickly run a toothbrush across your teeth and call it a morning. After all, a quick brushing for 30 seconds is better than not brushing at all, right?
You’re not totally wrong. But you’re not really helping your teeth if you don’t do it for the recommended two minutes. When you rush to brush, you’re leaving behind countless germs, plaque, and food that could wreak havoc on your mouth. On top of that, you need to give the fluoride in your toothpaste time to work its magic on your teeth. It needs longer than 30 seconds to improve your enamel.
If you’re really on top of your oral care, you’re brushing after every meal; that’s great, but it might be causing more harm than good.
It’s still recommended that you brush after a meal, but brushing too soon after you eat can be counterproductive. When we eat, the acidity from the food lingers in our mouths after we’re done. If you introduce abrasive toothbrushes immediately following a meal, you’re giving those acids better access to sensitive parts of your tooth. This will contribute to enamel erosion and lead to more sensitive teeth in the future.
To prevent these acids from wearing down your teeth, wait at least 15 to 20 minutes before busting out the toothpaste. This will enable your saliva to neutralize and break down the acids in your mouth before they’re worked into the fine lines on your teeth. If you really cannot wait that long, try rinsing your mouth out with plenty of water before brushing. This will help expel some of the acid before you bring on the brushing.
You might think you’re cleaning your gums when you brush your teeth. Most of us do. Brushing your gums with ultra-soft bristles toothbrush is a good alternative that will allow you to make sure you don’t neglect your gums by not brushing or hurt them by brushing too hard with a nylon toothbrush and causing gum recession.
While you might not need a tongue scraper, remembering to brush your tongue will help prevent bad breath and any lingering bacteria in your mouth. The bristles of your toothbrush should do a fine job at loosening potentially harmful bacteria. For added germ expulsion, rinse with a mouthwash when you finish brushing.
Toothbrushes should always be stored in an upright position in the open air. This allows the bristles to dry properly before you use it the next time. Don’t leave it on the counter where the liquid puddles around your toothbrush. And don’t store it in a travel container or other enclosed space: using a storage container will lock in the moisture from the toothbrush causing all sorts of nasty germs and fungi to grow in the damp, enclosed environment.
Avoid these problems by getting a simple stylish cup or toothbrush holder to store your toothbrushes. In the event you’re living with someone else or have a family of toothbrushes cluttering your counter, ensure your toothbrush holder has separate holes to keep the bristle heads from touching each other. Keep them away from the toilet (and always flush with the lid closed) and any open windows to ensure no extra bacteria gets on your brush. After all, this is the tool you put into your mouth again and again.