wooden toothbrushes, one with black bristles, one with blue bristles and one with beige bristles

How to Overcome the Most Common Oral Health Misconceptions

From not flossing to skipping dental visits, there are many seemingly harmless habits people have when it comes to oral health that can lead to serious problems down the road.

So to avoid the risk of encountering these problems, here’s a look at the most common dental mistakes and how to avoid them to maintain good oral health.

The Importance of Maintaining Good Oral Health Habits

Following good oral health habits can help you maintain and improve your overall health. By taking care of your teeth and mouth, you are preventing tooth and gum issues that can worsen over time and put you at risk of developing other health problems throughout your body.

While it may seem like you’re taking good care of your oral health, you may actually be making common dental mistakes that are doing more harm than you realize.

Oral Health Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some of the most common dental mistakes people make that cause more harm than good.

Brushing Too Frequently or Not Frequently Enough

While staying on top of your brushing routine is excellent for your oral health, it is possible to over-brush. You should only brush your teeth two to three times per day. Any amount more than that will risk damage to your gums and wear down tooth enamel.

Your teeth need a healthy amount of tooth enamel to stay strong and remain protected from the wear and tear of biting, chewing, and grinding. Without enough enamel, your teeth will feel sensitive and be more at risk of decay and cavities.

On the other hand, not brushing frequently enough can be even more detrimental to your oral health. You should brush at least twice a day, and one of those times should be before bed. Otherwise, without enough brushing, you risk having bad breath throughout the day. Your teeth will also experience acid erosion from the buildup of bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to tooth decay, cavities, infections, gum disease, and potential tooth loss.

Brushing Too Hard or Too Soft

Your brushing technique can determine how well you clean your teeth. And it can also do more harm than good.

Brushing too hard can lead to the similar effects of over-brushing, including enamel erosion and sore, bleeding gums. And brushing too gently won’t thoroughly clean your teeth. If you brush your teeth too gently because it hurts to brush or your teeth are sensitive, consult with your dentist to help alleviate this discomfort.

Using the Wrong Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are not one-size-fits-all. They come in many different sizes, shapes, and textures, so it’s important that you find the right toothbrush for your mouth and teeth.

Small toothbrush heads can reach the back teeth with ease, especially for those with smaller mouths. So if you have trouble reaching the back teeth because your toothbrush head is too large, then you risk not brushing your teeth properly.

Bristle texture can also help or harm your teeth. While almost anyone can use medium bristles, soft toothbrushes are recommended for those with sensitive teeth. And if you prefer to use a firm toothbrush, consult with your dentist first to see if it is safe for your teeth.

Not Flossing

Flossing is necessary to maintain good oral health. Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque buildup from the areas your toothbrush can’t reach—between your teeth and below the gum line.

If you don’t floss, you will be at risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. So floss at least once a day, and ideally before bedtime.

Brushing at the Wrong Times

Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating a meal or snack. Immediately after eating, there is acid present on the enamel. And if you brush your teeth during this time, you risk pushing the acid further into the enamel, which can lead to surface damage, tooth decay, cavities, and possible tooth loss.

So, wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth. And rinse your mouth with water beforehand if you want to help remove food from your teeth.

Neglecting Other Parts of the Mouth

Oral health doesn’t stop at your teeth. Harmful plaque bacteria can buildup on your gums and tongue as well. So, when brushing your teeth, gently massage your gums to remove bacteria. And use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove bacteria from your tongue.

To give your entire mouth an extra level of cleaning, also consider rinsing your mouth with mouthwash after brushing.

Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Often Enough

Toothbrushes are designed to remove bacteria from your teeth. So even with thorough rinsing after each use, some bacteria are bound to stick around in the bristles. And the bristles will inevitably wear down over time, becoming less effective at cleaning your teeth.

So, replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if you notice the bristles fraying. Otherwise, you risk brushing your teeth ineffectively and with harmful bacteria.

Over Whitening

While pearly white teeth are nice to have and look at, over-whitening your teeth can cause significant damage. Teeth whitening products can be extremely harmful, especially if used regularly.

With regular use, the bleaching agents can erode tooth enamel, damage teeth, burn gums, and cause teeth to be very sensitive and painful. So, if you want to whiten your teeth without causing significant damage, do so with the guidance of your dentist.

Avoiding the Dentist

Many people experience anxiety when going to the dentist. But avoiding the dentist altogether will only cause oral health problems to worsen over time, becoming more painful and costly.

During a routine dental checkup, your dentist can detect any problems and prevent them from getting worse. For example, your dentist can easily treat a small cavity with a filling when it starts to develop. But if you don’t go for a regular checkup, that small cavity can grow larger, become more painful, and cause damage to the pulp of your tooth, which could require a costly root canal treatment.

A routine checkup also includes a professional dental cleaning that helps remove stains and prevent gum disease by removing plaque and tartar from below the gum line. So, if you have dental anxiety, speak with your dentist—they will understand and find a solution to help ease your worries.

Seemingly-harmless mistakes like brushing right after eating can actually do more harm than good for your teeth. So, if you find yourself making any of these common dental mistakes, keep these tips in mind to avoid them in the future so you can help maintain a healthy smile.