This article is a list of oral hygiene mistakes you may be making in your routine. Similarly to my “10 Personal Hygiene Mistakes You Might Be Making Right Now” article that you can read HERE, I shared what the possible consequences of each mistake are.
This article will teach you how to avoid each of these mistakes.
Some of these oral hygiene mistakes can lead to illness, staining, plaque build up, periodontitis (gum disease), tooth decay and/or eventual tooth loss.
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Flushing With Your Toilet Lid Up
Would you wet your toothbrush using toilet water?
When you flush the toilet with the lid up a mist containing bacteria and particles left over from bodily fluids in the toilet bowl is sent upwards. This is known as, “toilet plume”.
The spread of toilet plume may be greatly reduced by shutting the lid of your toilet before you flush.
Most bacteria in a toilet plume from a well maintained personal toilet is unlikely to cause illness, but it still is not something most people want on their toothbrush.
Storing Your Toothbrush In A Bad Location
Keeping your toothbrush locked in a medicine cabinet or drawer may seem like a great way to protect it from the mist of germs from your toilet, but it isn’t.
Medicine cabinets and bathroom drawers tend to be humid and poorly ventilated. Your toothbrush will not be able to dry properly if locked in these spaces.
Leaving your toothbrush in a cup too close to the sink may cause it to get splashed when you are washing your hands. If it is a shared toothbrush cup, your brush may also end up resting on someone else’s.
I personally like to keep my toothbrush in a separate room, but you can definitely still keep your toothbrush in your bathroom. Just make sure you close the toilet lid before you flush and keep your brush out of the sink splash zone.
Having A Non-breathable Toothbrush Cover Or Pouch
Similarly to locking your toothbrush in a cabinet or drawer, using a cover or pouch may actually do more harm.
Using non-breathable pouches and covers do not allow your toothbrush to dry completely and properly after each use. This makes your toothbrush the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria.
If you opt to leave your toothbrush in a cover, you just have to make sure the cover is breathable.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Drinking enough water, especially after meals or snacks, is very beneficial for your oral hygiene.
Sipping water after eating can help you wash away food debris that can lead to plaque (film of food debris and bacteria) build up. In addition, rinsing the food debris also helps limit odor and decay.
Using The Wrong Type Of Toothbrush
Choosing a toothbrush that is too hard may damage enamel and lead to recession of gums.
You should ask your dentist which toothbrush is the best option for you, because it may vary based on how much pressure you apply when brushing.
Some electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors to help prevent you from applying too much pressure when you are brushing your teeth.
Some toothbrushes I like:
Only Brushing The Face Of Your Teeth
If all the places you brush are fully visible when you smile, you are not brushing everywhere you should be. It is imperative that you brush all of the surfaces of your teeth, not just the faces.
You should brush the chewing areas of your teeth and the backs of your teeth as well.
Neglecting to brush the parts of your teeth that are not visible may lead to plaque build up that will eventually become tartar.
Chewing On Hard Items
Chewing on pen caps, ice, toothpicks and other hard items may be harmful for your teeth. When done excessively, chewing hard items may have a negative impact on your dental hygiene.
These items might wear away your enamel or even lead to cracked teeth. Chewing pens or pencils may lead to you delivering harmful bacteria to your mouth.
Brushing Your Teeth To Infrequently Or Too Often
Brushing your teeth too infrequently can create an environment that promotes the buildup of odor and decay causing bacteria. Overbrushing may be too harsh on your enamel.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is great for your oral hygiene.
Not Brushing And Scraping Your Tongue
Not brushing and scraping your tongue can leave food debris and bacteria may begin to congregate there. Failing to brush your tongue may eventually lead to bad breath and poor oral health. Scraping your tongue is effective at removing a lot of debris.
My favorite tongue scraper:
Brushing For The Wrong Amount Of Time
You may be brushing your teeth for a period that is too short or a period that is too long.
If you are not brushing your teeth for a long enough amount of time you may not have a chance to brush away all of the debris properly.
Alternatively, If you are brushing your teeth too long, you may cause damage to your enamel or gums.
About 2 minutes of brushing each time you brush may help improve your oral hygiene. Many electric toothbrushes have built in timers that can help you stay on track.
Not Properly Rinsing Your Toothbrush
You should rinse your toothbrush with warm water before and after each use. When rinsing, you should include the handle. This washes away any food particles that may be resting between the bristles of your toothbrush.
I like to use vinegar or a bit of mouthwash on my toothbrush. I let my toothbrush soak for a while before rinsing the mouthwash or vinegar off.
Keeping Your Toothbrush Too Long
I actually included this in my “10 Personal Hygiene Mistakes You Might Be Making Right Now” article that you can read HERE.
Keeping toothbrushes too long allows bacteria to fester. Old frayed toothbrushes are also less effective at brushing away debris.
Many professionals agree that it is only safe to keep a toothbrush for three to four months.
Toothbrushes should be replaced sooner if they appear frayed or you had a cold recently. Frayed toothbrushes are not as effective at brushing away debris.
Storing And Cleaning Dental Appliances Improperly
If you never brush your dental appliances and you never do a deep clean, they will harbor a lot of bacteria from your mouth and the surfaces they come in contact with.
If your dental appliances are removable, store them in a clean safe place when you are not wearing them.
You can ask your dentist for the proper care of your specific appliance. Some appliances must be kept in water when they are not being used.
Neglecting Your Gums
It is important to floss at least once a day to promote good gum health. Flossing can remove pieces of food that may be lodged between your teeth where toothbrush bristles can not reach.
I personally use multiple types of floss in my oral hygiene routine. In addition to traditional string floss, I use interdental brushes and a WaterPik. If you are wearing a fixed orthodontic appliance and you struggle to get string floss between your teeth, I recommend trying a floss threader when using traditional floss.
It is also important to brush your gum line at a 45° angle to make sure you brush away any food debris and plaque that may be building up there.
If brushing along your gum line, flossing, or chewing causes bleeding, it may be an early sign of gingivitis. It is important to treat gingivitis as soon as it is detected.
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to gum recession and tooth loss.
Some floss I like:
Licking Your Lips
Not only is this an ineffective way to moisturize your lips, it can actually lead to skin issues on and around your mouth.
Constantly licking your lips can lead to Lip Licker’s Dermatitis or increase your risk for Angular Chelitis. To avoid this, you can keep a reliable lip balm on hand.
Lip products I love: