Stop! You're (Probably) Brushing Your Teeth All Wrong!

I’ve been, ahem, scolded more than once by my kids’ dentist about the way they brush their teeth. Dentists are like freaking Sherlock Holmes, all privy to all your deepest, darkest bad oral habits with just a peek inside your mouth. It freaks me out a little bit, honestly.

But back to my kids and my obvious lack of proper toothbrushing supervision. It seems my kids are prone to tartar, ya know, that grody buildup that’s harder than the surface of a diamond that sits right above your gum line? Yeah, that stuff. It is because they are tartar prone that I should be monitoring their twice-daily oral routine with an eagle eye.

Their dentist told he could tell my kids were clearly “sawing” the toothbrush back and forth on the bottom halves of their teeth only. Not only that, they weren’t angling their toothbrush.

I listened, nodded, pretended to be annoyed with my kids for not following my explicit “angle your toothbrush” instruction, and then thanked my lucky stars that the inside of my mouth didn’t tattle on me. Angling the toothbrush? I’m pretty sure I’ve never done that once. Um, I didn’t know I was supposed to.

As it turns out, a lot of us are brushing our teeth wrong and guess what? That means our kids are doing it wrong too.

WebMD offered up some common toothbrushing mistakes and how to avoid them. Check them out after the jump!

1. Choosing the wrong toothbrush. Size matters y’all. Richard H. Price, DMD, tells us that our toothbrush has to have a comfortable handle and fit well inside our mouths. We shouldn’t have to strain our mouths open for a toothbrush that’s too large. As far as manual verses electric toothbrushes are concerned, Michael Sesemann, DDS said, “A person who brushes well with a manual will do as well as a person who brushes well with an electric.”

2. Brushing wrong. OK, so my family is guilty as charged. Listen up, Michael Sesemann, DDS is going to tell us how to do it right, ”Long horizontal strokes along the gum line can lead to abrasions,” says Sesemann. “Aim your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle and do short strokes or vibrations.” Told ya, angle. Also, you’re supposed to brush your teeth up and down, not across. Mind = blown.

3. Brushing too hard: Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears when it comes to tooth brushing. Brushing too hard erodes tooth enamel. If your kids are anything like mine they brush way too hard and way too fast, irritating their gums and stripping away tooth enamel at record speed. Gentle brushing for 2-3 minutes is recommended.

4. Not letting your toothbrush dry: Eww, moist toothbrushes encourage bacterial growth. After use, shake out the moisture and allow the toothbrush to dry.

…and I’m adding this last one which has nothing to do with toothbrushing but has everything to do with proper and complete oral care:

5. Not rinsing: I hate nag, but I’ll say it again: brushing alone misses up to 75 percent of your mouth! That’s right; you heard me. A fluoride rise such as Listerine® Smart Rinse® can offer extra protection against cavities, so get your swish on!

Please tell me I wasn’t the only person brushing all wrong!

I received products from Johnson & Johnson as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Kids Cavity-Free School Year Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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