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Toothbrush mistakes that ‘can damage teeth’

Tooth issue - Spitting Image's version of Esther Rantzen / Central TV

Health and Mental Health

Toothbrush mistakes that ‘can damage teeth’

Let’s bite into this oral hygiene issue…

Experts have revealed to ATV Today Lifestyle that incorrect toothbrush usage can lead to tooth decay. Every aspect plays a crucial role in maintaining oral hygiene, from selecting a toothbrush with the appropriate bristle hardness to the frequency and technique of brushing.

A leading bathroom specialist has compiled a list of toothbrushing mistakes, from oral experts, that could contribute to tooth decay. This analysis highlights the often-overlooked practices undermining our oral health and offers straightforward solutions to mitigate these risks.

A spokesperson from Plumbworld commented on the findings:
“Enhancing your toothbrushing habits goes beyond simply choosing the right brush and toothpaste; it’s about adopting a set of effective routines. A critical yet often neglected factor is the frequency and timing of brushing. Whilst brushing twice daily is standard advice, cleaning your teeth after every meal can significantly reduce plaque accumulation and ward off tooth decay. Moreover, ensuring you brush for two minutes, allocating equal time to each of the four quadrants of your mouth, guarantees a comprehensive clean.”
  1. Using a Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
    • Choosing a toothbrush with hard bristles might be perceived as beneficial for achieving a thorough clean. However, this can actually lead to detrimental effects on dental health, including the damage to the protective enamel on your teeth and injury to your gums. This damage may result in increased sensitivity and a higher susceptibility to cavities and gum disease.
    • Solution: Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush. It’s gentle on both your teeth and gums while effectively removing plaque and debris.
  2. Not Changing the Toothbrush Regularly
    • Keeping the same toothbrush for an extended period allows bacteria to accumulate on the bristles. Over time, bristles also become frayed, significantly reducing the toothbrush’s effectiveness in cleaning teeth properly. This can contribute to a decline in oral hygiene and an increase in the risk of dental problems.
    • Solution: Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed, to ensure your toothbrush remains clean and effective at maintaining your oral hygiene.
  3. Improper Brushing Technique
    • Applying excessive force or using an incorrect brushing technique can lead to damage to the gums and enamel. This may manifest as gum recession and increased tooth sensitivity, making the teeth more vulnerable to decay and discomfort.
    • Solution: Use a gentle circular motion to clean your teeth, ensuring you reach all surfaces, including the back molars, without applying excessive pressure. If you’re uncertain about your technique, ask your dentist for a demonstration.
  4. Not Brushing Long Enough
    • Hastily brushing one’s teeth can result in inadequate removal of plaque and food particles. This negligence contributes directly to the formation of cavities and the development of gum disease, as plaque build-up leads to harmful acids attacking the tooth enamel.
    • Solution: Dedicate at least two minutes to brush your teeth, dividing your mouth into four sections and spending 30 seconds on each. Consider using a timer or an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer to aid in this.
  5. Ignoring the Tongue and Gums
    • The tongue and gums are critical areas in the mouth that, if neglected, can become breeding grounds for bacteria. This oversight can lead to bad breath and the increased likelihood of tooth decay and gum diseases, as bacteria and food particles accumulate in these areas.
    • Solution: Gently brush your tongue and gums to eliminate bacteria and food particles. For a more thorough cleaning of the tongue, a tongue scraper might be used.
  6. Brushing Right After Eating Acidic Foods
    • Consuming acidic foods or drinks softens the tooth enamel temporarily. Brushing immediately afterwards can then lead to the erosion of this softened enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to damage and decay.
    • Solution: Wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking acidic substances before brushing, allowing your saliva time to neutralise the acids and safeguard your enamel.
  7. Using the Wrong Toothpaste
    • The use of abrasive toothpaste or toothpaste that does not contain fluoride fails to provide the necessary protection against decay and can lead to the erosion of the enamel. This ultimately compromises the tooth’s natural defence against cavities and can exacerbate sensitivity.
    • Solution: Select a toothpaste containing fluoride and one that is approved by dental associations. If you suffer from sensitive teeth, seek out toothpaste specifically designed for sensitivity.
  8. Storing the Toothbrush Improperly
    • Storing a toothbrush in a closed container fosters a moist environment conducive to bacterial growth. This practice can compromise the cleanliness of the toothbrush and, by extension, the effectiveness of your oral hygiene routine.
    • Solution: After rinsing your toothbrush, store it in an upright position and allow it to air dry. Avoid using toothbrush covers, as they can trap moisture.
  9. Not Using Enough Fluoride
    • Fluoride plays a pivotal role in strengthening tooth enamel and aiding in the repair of early tooth decay. A lack of adequate fluoride exposure can leave teeth more vulnerable to decay and the development of cavities.
    • Solution: Use fluoride toothpaste and consider using a fluoride mouthwash. Check whether your water supply is fluoridated, as consuming fluoridated water can also bolster your teeth’s defence against decay.
  10. Infrequent Replacement After Illness
    • Continuing to use the same toothbrush after falling ill can result in the reintroduction of germs to your mouth, potentially extending the duration of your illness or leading to re-infection.
    • Solution: Replace your toothbrush once you’ve recovered from an illness to prevent re-infection and minimise the spread of bacteria.

Spokesperson from Plumbworld:

“Preventing tooth decay with fluoride is a well-acknowledged measure, but it forms only a part of the oral health puzzle. Regular dental check-ups play a vital role in early issue identification, and your diet significantly affects your dental well-being. Reducing sugary foods and beverages can greatly decrease the likelihood of developing cavities. Also, incorporating interdental cleaning into your daily regimen addresses the plaque and food particles that your toothbrush might miss, especially between teeth.

“Adopting this comprehensive approach, which emphasises both preventive measures and proper brushing techniques, is crucial for sustaining oral health. It encourages thoughtful, proactive decisions in support of your dental hygiene.”

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