10 Mistakes You Could Be Making With Your Dental Hygiene Routine—And How to Fix Them


Doctor talking to her male patient at office about dental hygiene

Dental hygiene is one of the most important parts of your daily routine. Not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to a whole host of health problems, and not just in your mouth—cavities and gum disease can contribute to many other issues like diabetes, heart attack, and even stroke. That’s why it’s vital to make sure your mouth stays as clean as possible.

Here are ten of the most common mistakes in dental hygiene, and Exceptional Smiles’ tips for fixing them.


  1. Brushing Too Hard

When you brush your teeth, you want to apply enough pressure to remove plaque and food particles, but not so much that you’re doing more harm than good. Brushing too hard can cause “toothbrush abrasion”, which damages your gums and enamel.  If the bristles on your toothbrush are bending or getting squashed against your teeth, you’re brushing too hard.

  1. Using The Wrong Kind of Toothbrush

In addition to brushing too hard, using a toothbrush with medium or hard bristles can also erode your enamel and gums. Soft toothbrushes are best for most people, and you may want to consider using extra soft if you have sensitive teeth or a history of gum disease. Also consider shape and size when you’re choosing a toothbrush—if you have a small mouth, look for a brush with a smaller head so it’s more comfortable to use.

  1. Not Replacing Your Toothbrush

Many people don’t throw out their old toothbrushes nearly often enough. An old toothbrush can hold onto harmful bacteria, and the more you use it, the less effective it gets over time. The ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or as soon as you see any bending or fraying of the bristles.

  1. Brushing Too Often

Just like brushing too hard, brushing too often can cause similar damage, wearing away at your gums and enamel. Unless otherwise instructed by your dentist, try not to brush more than 2-3 times a day.

  1. Not Brushing Often Enough

Even worse than brushing too often is not brushing often enough. The ADA suggests that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, preferably once in the morning and once at night before bed.

  1. Ignoring Your Tongue And Gums

When you brush your teeth, you should really be brushing your whole mouth. Decay causing bacteria collects on your gums and tongue as well, and ignoring them allows harmful germs to stay in your mouth and reproduce. When brushing, massage your gums with small, gentle circles. Afterwards, clean your tongue either with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove buildup.

  1. Not Drinking Enough Water

A dry mouth is the perfect environment for germs to thrive. Drinking water aids in the production of saliva, which helps to dilute acid from foods and drinks and wash away the sugars that bacteria love to eat.

  1. Brushing Right After Eating

You may think that it would be best to brush your teeth as soon as possible after eating or drinking, but that’s not always the case. If you’ve just eaten something acidic, brushing your teeth immediately after actually pushes the acid further into your enamel. It’s better to wait at least 30 minutes. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking to help dilute the acid without damaging your teeth.

  1. Not Flossing

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a great start towards keeping your mouth clean and cavity free, but brushing alone is not enough. You also need to floss in order to reach the areas that your toothbrush can’t. According to the ADA, “this is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.” Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth, helping to prevent gum disease and cavities.

  1. Skipping Regular Dental Checkups

Even if you’re following all the suggestions above, there are still some issues that can’t be detected or taken care of at home. It’s important to see your dentist regularly in order to catch problems as soon as possible and prevent them from getting worse. Call our office at (540) 434-5500 or visit our website to book an appointment today!

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Got Any More Tips?

If you have another tip or trick for great oral hygiene that’s not on our list, leave it in the comments section below.