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5 Mistakes We Make Brushing Our Teeth and How to Fix Them

Good oral health habits start with brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and rinsing with mouthwash. Next, it’s time to double-check that you’re brushing correctly. If you’re brushing too harshly for short periods, you risk hurting your gums and not getting rid of all the plaque.

The following are five mistakes we make brushing our teeth and how to fix them.

Beautiful woman brushing teeth in the bathroom.

1. Brushing Immediately After Eating

It sounds counterintuitive, but brushing your teeth immediately after eating is a mistake. If you have plaque buildup on your teeth, you’ll feel it after eating. Nonetheless, wait an hour.

Acidic foods, such as lemons, tomatoes, and oranges, impact your teeth’ enamel. If you brush within minutes of eating them, you’ll add to the enamel’s erosion by peeling it away, suggests Colgate. The same goes for acidic drinks, such as soft drinks.

Those who want to brush their teeth immediately after eating might require a dental cleaning. You probably feel the gunk build up after waking up in the morning. When this becomes a consistent occurrence, it’s time for a cleaning.

A common mistake we make brushing our teeth is brushing immediately after a meal. Instead, wait an hour. If you feel like there’s gunk on your teeth, it’s time for professional cleaning.

2. Not Brushing Long Enough

Several dental organizations have concluded that it’s best to brush your teeth for two minutes total. Spend 30 seconds in each quadrant. During those 30 seconds, brush the front, bottom, and back.

Your goal is to remove food stuck on your teeth. You’re also trying to remove plaque and the thin layer of film that accumulates over time. Brushing for 30 seconds in each quadrant gives you enough time to knock off the film, plaque, and food without hurting your gums or eroding your teeth’ enamel.

Another common mistake we make while brushing our teeth is not spending enough time in each quadrant. Technology helps fix it. On the market, you’ll find toothbrushes that help you keep track of time. 

3. Not Replacing Your Toothbrush

When you notice that the bristles on your toothbrush are in disarray, it’s time for a new toothbrush. If you opt for a powered brush, disheveled bristles indicate it’s time to replace the head.

Dental professionals believe that the average person should replace their toothbrush or brush head once every three to four months.

Worn-out bristles don’t leave your teeth feeling clean. The bristles aren’t stiff enough to remove plaque, bacteria, and thin film.

Set up a reminder on your smartphone three months after you purchase a new toothbrush or replace the head to fix this brushing mistake. When you visit your dentist for your bi-annual cleaning, open a new toothbrush. Then set up a reminder for three months from that date for a new one.

4. Brushing  Too Hard

A common mistake individuals make when brushing their teeth is brushing too hard. You won’t notice it right away, but harsh brushing causes your gums to recede. If your dentist gives you a heads up, it means the recession is very noticeable.

Brushing too hard also causes your enamel to erode too. If you notice that your teeth are more sensitive, it’s time to take it easy.

The newest powered toothbrushes let you know when you’re brushing too hard. They have a built-in sensor and light that indicate when you’re applying the correct amount of pressure. It’s a great way to fix this brushing mistake.

If you notice tiny lines on your teeth after brushing, you might be a nighttime teeth grinder. The good news is that there’s information online to help you learn more about teeth grinding, bruxism, and TMJ. Your dentist can confirm if you suffer from bruxism and offer solutions, such as a nightguard.

5. Not Using the Right Technique

Those who apply too much pressure aren’t using the right brushing technique.

The correct technique includes placing the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. With short strokes, brush each tooth back and forth. As you brush each tooth, remember to spend 30 seconds in each quadrant total. Use the seconds to clean each tooth’s outer, inner, and bottom sides.

When you’re ready to clean the front teeth, use short up and down strokes while placing the toothbrush vertically to them.

Practice the correct one in the mirror until it’s second nature to fix the wrong technique.


Most people make at least one brushing mistake. The advantage of living in 2021 is the technology built into the latest teeth cleaning tools and online video tutorials.


About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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