Are You Brushing your Teeth Wrong?

Take the time to treat your teeth right!

If there’s one group of people who knows how to brush their teeth correctly, it’s dental professionals! At the American College of Medical Careers, in Orlando, Florida, our dental assisting students are learning all about dental hygiene and how to assist dentists in their everyday activities and procedures.

If you want the inside scoop on what our dental assistant students are learning about dental care, try ACMC’s top 10 Tooth Brushing Mistakes:   


Top 10 Tooth-Brushing Mistakes

1. Wrong angle/wrong motion

Sawing horizontally back and forth over your teeth is not good for them. It can be especially bad for your gum line. Instead, use gentle up-and-down or circular motions. Be sure to angle your toothbrush toward your gum line at a 45-degree angle. This helps to remove food particles and prevent plaque build-up.

2. Toothbrush too big

If you choose a toothbrush that is too large, you may not be able to get it into the hard-to-reach spots, like the inner sides of your teeth and the backs of your molars. Try out different sizes to see which is the best fit for your mouth.

3. Toothbrush too hard

Toothbrush manufacturers make hard-bristled toothbrushes, but it’s not a good idea to use them. Hard bristles can damage your enamel and your gums. Instead, choose soft or extra-soft bristles.

4. Brushing too hard

Brushing too hard is a very common error. You might be in a rush, and scrubbing like crazy to make it go faster. Or you might think that scrubbing harder will make your teeth cleaner. This isn’t the case. In fact, brushing too hard can hurt both your enamel and your gums. Instead, you should slow down, take your time, and use a very gentle motion. Think of it as gently polishing your teeth and stimulating your gums—and not scouring them to death!

5. Not brushing long enough

You have probably heard the 2-minute rule, but do you follow it? Next time you brush, time yourself. Two minutes can feel like a long time, but it’s the best way to truly remove the particles and bacteria that can cause decay and plaque. One way to make the two minutes more manageable is to give yourself 30 seconds for each quadrant of your teeth (lower left, lower right, upper right, upper left). Breaking it up this way helps it feel faster.

6. Eating after brushing at night

Are you a late-night snacker? Eating after your final brush of the day is not a good idea. It means you’re going to bed with food particles or sugar on your teeth all night long. Make sure to brush again if you find yourself eating at night.

7. Not flossing

Brushing your teeth is only so effective. A toothbrush cannot reach between your teeth. For this reason, it’s important to floss at least once a day. This helps remove food and bacteria from between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. Try these flossing tips to get it right.

8. Old toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. This helps to keep the bristles in good shape and avoid a buildup of bacteria.

9. Skipping parts of your mouth

Another tooth-brushing mistake is when you miss important parts of your mouth. For example, some people are great at brushing their front teeth and molars, but they skip the insides of their teeth. It’s very important to brush all of these surfaces carefully: outer surfaces, inner surfaces, chewing surfaces, behind the back molars, and even your tongue!

10. Forgetting to brush

It goes without saying that forgetting to brush your teeth is a mistake! The ADA recommends brushing at least two times per day.


If you’re falling into any of these traps, you might want to improve your tooth-brushing techniques. Remember, your adult teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Taking care of them now will definitely pay off!