You’re not brushing your teeth for long enough
The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes, but many people fall woefully short—and don’t even realize it. “Different studies have timed people brushing their teeth and asked them how long they thought they did it for,” says Ed Hewlett, DDS, a professor of restorative dentistry and associate dean for outreach and diversity at UCLA School of Dentistry in Los Angeles, CA. “Some people thought they’d brushed for a couple of minutes, but it can be less than half a minute. Our perception of how long we’re brushing is not very accurate.” To take out the guesswork, use an electric toothbrush that beeps when you’ve reached two minutes, or use a timer on your phone or an egg timer. Here are 10 rules for keeping your teeth white and healthy.
You’re brushing too hard
If you brush your teeth like you would scour a pan with baked-on food, you’re doing more harm than good. “When you press hard against your teeth and gums, you get a satisfying sensation that you’re really getting the teeth clean,” says Dr. Hewlett. “But it’s not making your teeth cleaner, and it can do harm.” The point of brushing is to remove plaque—a bacterial film—which is sticky but also soft, so you don’t need to go to town on your teeth to remove it. “Pushing too hard can overstress the gum tissue and cause it to recede, exposing part of the tooth’s root,” says Dr. Hewlett. “That area can become sensitive to hot and cold. The root is also more susceptible to cavities than the hard enamel part of the tooth.” Try one of these 11 home remedies for a toothache.