The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

May 22, 2020

The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

When it comes to keeping your teeth healthy and free from decay, brushing your teeth twice a day is one practice your dentist recommends. Brushing your teeth allows you to remove excess plaque and bacteria from your mouth, which makes it less likely that dental decay will occur. However, an important part of brushing your teeth is doing it correctly. Although brushing your teeth incorrectly is still better than not brushing your teeth at all, there are far more benefits when brushing your teeth correctly. These are the most common mistakes dentists notice their patients making while brushing and correcting these mistakes can help you improve your brushing routine:

The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

Not Using the Right Toothbrush

The type of toothbrush you use directly affects the effectiveness of your tooth brushing routine. You will want to look for a toothbrush that has a long handle and soft bristles. Hard bristles on a toothbrush are not ideal since they can damage your enamel. To make things easy on yourself, simply look for a toothbrush that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. This ensures that you are using a toothbrush that is beneficial to your oral health.


In order to obtain the most benefits from brushing your teeth, you need to do it for two minutes at a time. This is enough time to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your teeth and ensure thre is no plaque buildup. Unfortunately, people who rush through brushing often miss places such as along the gum line or the inside of their teeth. This causes plaque buildup to eventually harden into tartar. Plaque buildup along the gum line can also result in gum disease. 

Brushing Too Hard

Scrubbing your teeth with a back and forth motion will not make them any cleaner, but it can damage both your enamel and gums. Dental plaque is soft and comes off easily with gentle pressure. Therefore, the best way to brush your teeth is by starting at the gums and moving your toothbrush up and down in circular motions. Basically, you want to gently massage your teeth instead of scrubbing them. 

Using an Old Toothbrush

Your toothbrush ages like anything else and it will lose its effectiveness eventually. Signs that your toothbrush is worn and in need of replacement include bristles that are flared, bent, or faded in color. In most cases, you toothbrush will wear out every 3-4 month and need to be replaced. However, it is also important to replace your toothbrush if you’ve been sick recently. 

Rinsing Your Mouth

Toothpaste contains fluoride, which helps make your enamel stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. However, fluoride can only work effectively when it is left on your teeth. Therefore, you should avoid rinsing your mouth with water after you spit. Instead, let the toothpaste remain on your teeth so it can do its job. 

Brushing Too Soon

When you have just eaten a meal, you will want to wait about 15-20 minutes before brushing your teeth. This is because decay-causing bacteria eat when we eat, then they produce acidic waste that increases the overall acidity in your mouth. When this acidity is combined with the abrasive action of brushing, it can cause more damage to your enamel. Waiting a while allows your saliva to neutralize the acid so that less damage is done when you brush.

April Toyer, DDS, FAAPD

Dr. April Toyer became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2011 and is proud to be a consultant for Committee of Sedation and Anesthesia within the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

April Toyer, DDS, FAAPD

April Toyer, DDS, FAAPD

The team at Lifetime Dental Care brings a full range of services to patients in and around the Woodbridge, VA area. These four doctors bring a range of experience, diverse backgrounds, and professional knowledge together to provide families with a safe and friendly home for their oral health needs.