The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes

The Most Common Toothbrushing Mistakes (1)

Brushing your teeth twice a day is an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth. To make sure that you are getting the most out of your twice-daily brushings, it is important to make sure that you are using the proper technique. Although many people don’t realize it, there are a variety of common mistakes that they often make while brushing their teeth. Here are some of the most common:

Brushing Too Hard 

One common mistake people often make is that they brush their teeth too hard. Oftentimes, they believe that applying more pressure will remove stains and tartar buildup from the surface of their teeth. However, not only does brushing too hard not remove tartar or stains, but it is highly damaging to the enamel and can cause enamel erosion. Instead it is better to visit your dentist for the removal of tartar or stains and only apply gentle pressure when brushing your teeth.

Using the Wrong Technique

diagram on how to brush your teeth

Along with brushing too hard, some people move the toothbrush sideways across their teeth, parallel to the gums. This is actually not recommended since it can be damaging to the enamel and does not effectively remove plaque. Instead, it is recommended to brush in small circles, starting at the gum line and working your way towards the tip of the tooth. This technique removes more plaque without damaging the enamel. 

Using the Wrong Toothbrush 

Another common mistake is that people often use the wrong type of toothbrush. The ideal toothbrush is one that has a handle long enough to reach the back of the mouth, as well as soft bristles. To determine if you are using an appropriate toothbrush, you should always look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance This lets you know that that specific toothbrush has been tested and approved by the American Dental Association. It is important to make sure you are using the right toothbrush because using the wrong toothbrush can actually do more harm than good.

Not Replacing Your Toothbrush 

In addition to making sure that you are using the right toothbrush, you will also need to make sure that you replace this toothbrush. Generally speaking, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush approximately every 3 to 4 months or after you have been sick. Some signs that your toothbrush needs to be replaced include faded or frayed bristles. Replacing your toothbrush helps to control the amount of bacteria that you are introducing into your mouth and ensures that the bristles can effectively remove plaque.


According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. This gives you enough time to thoroughly clean the front and back surfaces of each tooth. People who tend to brush for less than 2 minutes often miss several places. In fact, many dentists note that their patients often miss brushing along the gum line and on the insides of their teeth next to the tongue. Consequently, these locations are common spots for cavity formation.


woman rinsing her mouth with water

After brushing your teeth, most people tend to rinse their mouth out with water. However, this is not recommended. This is because toothpaste contains fluoride, which helps to strengthen the tooth enamel. When you rinse your mouth after brushing, you also rinse off the fluoride from the surface of your teeth. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid rinsing your teeth after you brush so that the fluoride can evenly coat the surface of your teeth. This will decrease the rate of tooth decay and make it harder for plaque to accumulate.

Dr Alina Huang DMD

Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.