The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

Did you know that the way you brush your teeth can affect your oral health? While brushing your teeth is better than not brushing, making certain brushing mistakes can decrease how effective your daily brushings are. To help you improve your brushing routine, here are some of the most common tooth brushing mistakes you could be making: 

large yellow toothbrush

Using a Hard Bristled Toothbrush

Toothbrushes that have stiff or hard bristles can be damaging to your teeth. For starters, they can weaken the enamel and cause dental erosion. They can also irritate your gums and cause gum recession. Therefore, the American Dental Association recommends using a brush with soft bristles that is long enough to reach the back of your mouth. 

Using the Same Toothbrush

You should never use the same toothbrush for more than four months because it does not clean your teeth properly. In fact, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if you have been sick. You can tell it’s time to replac your toothbrush when the bristles become discolored, bent, or frayed. 

Using Too Much Pressure

Contrary to popular belief, scrubbing your teeth does not make them cleaner. It can, however, contribute to enamel erosion and gum recession. Massaging the surface of your teeth with your toothbrush is enough pressure to remove plaque without damaging your teeth or gums. 

Going Back and Forth

Just like scrubbing your teeth does not make them cleaner, moving your toothbrush back and forth also does not make your teeth cleaner. In fact, it can be just as damaging as applying too much pressure. The correct way to brush your teeth is to start at the gum line and move your toothbrush up and down in a circular motion. 

diagram showing how to properly brush your teeth


In order to adequately remove plaque and clean your teeth, you need to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. Trying to save time by skipping a brushing session or rushing through a brushing session can mean that plaque gets left behind on your teeth. This can eventually cause a cavity to develop. 

Another mistake you may be making is that you are rushing to brush your teeth after meals. It is recommended to wait about 15-20 minutes after eating to allow your saliva to neutralize the acids from the food. Brushing too soon after a meal can cause damage to your enamel due to the high acid concentration. 

Skipping Key Areas

One problem associated with rushing while brushing is that you tend to skip certain areas. In fact, there are two key areas that people often skip when brushing their teeth: along the gum line and the inside of their teeth. The gum line is especially important to brush because this is a common location for plaque buildup. Using your brush at a 45° angle is the best way to remove plaque along the gum line. Additionally, you will want to repeat this process on the inside of your teeth. 


After you have finished brushing your teeth, you will want to spit out the excess toothpaste. However, you should not rinse your mouth with water. This is because toothpaste contains fluoride and you will want as much fluoride to remain on your teeth as possible. Fluoride is highly beneficial to your oral health because it strengthens your tooth enamel and prevents cavities. 

Dr. Sam Sadati wearing black suite portrait

Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry.  He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.