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The Biggest Dental Care Mistakes

Image of dental equipment, tooth brush and dental floss

Dental care is not as easy and straight-forward as you may think. People often make big dental care mistakes which can do more harm than good. Avoid these common mistakes to keep your teeth as healthy as possible for life.

Flossing Incorrectly

There is more to flossing than just dragging dental floss between your teeth. Glide the floss down between your teeth with a smooth, gentle, back-and-forth motion. This motion will wipe the food and bacteria off the surface between your teeth. Pull the floss down to just below the gumline gently. Do not snap the floss or pull it down between your teeth aggressively or haphazardly.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you “Brush your teeth after you floss – it is a more effective method of preventing tooth decay and gum disease.”

You should also use “shred-resistant” floss if your floss tends to break and get stuck between your teeth. If the shred-resistant floss still shreds and breaks easily, have your teeth checked by your dentist. There may be rough or jagged edges that need to be smoothed or filled. You can also push the floss down between your teeth then pull one end through if the floss breaks or shreds easily. Another trick you can use to dislodge food is a knot in the floss. Tie a knot in one end, gently pull the floss down between your teeth then pull the knotted floss through. The knot will help to dislodge food and bacteria.

Brushing Incorrectly

Do not scrub your teeth with a firm toothbrush like you’re scrubbing stubborn, baked-on food out of a pan. Scrubbing too hard will cause your gums to recede, exposing the base of the tooth to food and bacteria. Use a soft toothbrush and brush gently with a circular/up-down motion while holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Change your motion and where you start brushing every other day or so. That way, you are less likely to miss the same spots every time you brush.

You should brush your teeth 20 to 30 minutes after each meal but very few of us take the time. Brushing once each day at bedtime will clean away the tartar before it turns into plaque. It also prevents decay that will happen while you sleep if your teeth are coated with bacteria, food and acids. If you can squeeze in another brushing or two throughout the day, all the better.

Health Canada recommends that you “Brush your children’s teeth for them, until they are able to write (not print) their own name.”

Skipping Regular Check-ups

Do not skip regular check-ups just because you aren’t suffering any pain or sensitivity at the moment. Your dentist will catch potential problems before they become painful and more costly. For example, you may not notice a filling that is starting to wear or crack but your dentist will. If you wait until the tooth cracks or is causing pain, you may end up losing the tooth or having to get a root canal. Go to your dentist every 6 to 12 months for a quick check-up.

Avoiding Dental Care

Do not put off going to the dentist if you are having any tooth pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, bleeding or mouth sores that persist for more than a few days or jaw pain. There are many causes of such symptoms ranging from something as simple to fix as a worn filling or yeast infection to something serious like oral cancer. Take the time to get it checked out and treated before it turns into a severe dental problem.

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