Taking Care of Your Teeth: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

You hear it from your dentist at every visit: Practice good oral hygiene to avoid problems down the road, including cavities, gingivitis, and advanced gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. And doesn’t “good oral hygiene” mean brushing twice a day and flossing daily?

This is what taking good care of your smile entails, but it isn’t as simple as that. If you perform these tasks incorrectly or take shortcuts, you may be creating new problems.

At Popper Dental on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Dr. Jason Popper, Dr. Marlisa Popper, and Dr. Howard Popper can help with any dental issue you face, from providing routine checkups and cleanings to more involved procedures like treating gum disease and placing implants. 

The foundation of your oral health is built on your daily habits, and it’s important to understand that proper oral care technique is everything when it comes to maintaining that smile and preventing future problems. 

We see the negative results when patients take shortcuts in caring for their teeth. Here are our top five:

1. Replacing your toothbrush too infrequently

It’s easy not to notice broken bristles and a worn look on your toothbrush, but when it’s in this condition, the effectiveness of your brushing — and thorough removal of food debris and plaque — suffers. 

A good rule of thumb is to change your brush every several months. Put a reminder on your phone or just mark the first day of the appropriate months on your calendar. A toothbrush in tip-top shape guarantees that your teeth get the TLC they deserve. 

2. Using a brush with the wrong bristle strength

It sounds a bit like when Goldilocks tried the three bears’ porridge — one bowl was too hot, another too cold, but the last one was “just right.” Picking the right toothbrush for optimal cleaning isn’t too different.

Soft-bristled brushes are often appropriate if you have tooth sensitivity, but you’ve got to make sure you’re brushing vigorously enough to get the job done. Conversely, if you brush too hard using a firm toothbrush, you can actually hurt your tooth enamel and gums. 

A medium-bristled brush works well for most people, but go easy on the pressure when you brush. 

3. Thinking you can get away with brushing once a day

This just isn’t enough. Only brushing in the morning is especially bad, because over the course of the day and night, remnants of everything you eat and drink end up on your teeth. 

You just have 8-12 hours before those remnants transform into plaque, and then 24-48 hours before they harden into tartar, which can only be removed during a professional dental cleaning.

It’s important to avoid plaque and tartar buildup because they lead to cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss

4. Skipping flossing

Flossing is critical to your oral health. If you fail to remove harmful bacteria from between your teeth, you’re at much higher risk for cavities and, over time, gum disease. Severe gum disease is linked to tooth loss and serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke.

Remember that your teeth and gums are gateways to your overall health, and preventive care is the best thing you can do to preserve your teeth and the rest of you. And if you see any blood while flossing, don’t think that means you need to stop. This is normal and shouldn’t deter you. 

5. Rushing through brushing

To clean your teeth sufficiently, you need to brush for a full two minutes. Taking shortcuts means that you’re not really cleaning your teeth to prevent decay.

If you use a manual toothbrush, set a timer on your phone, or get an electric toothbrush if you don’t want to be bothered with keeping track. Electric brushes are timed to stop after two minutes and have subtle prompts that direct you to move to the next part of your mouth.

Remember, practice makes perfect, and we’re always here to help you optimize your oral care, whether that’s through tools that make it easier, or helping you enhance your brushing and flossing mindset. 

If you’d like to discuss your oral care habits and whether there’s room for improvement, we’re happy to help. Call our New York City office or book your appointment online

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