Confession time: We’ve been slacking on that whole brushing for two full minutes thing our childhood dentists taught us. In fact, after talking to a few incisor experts, we're pretty ashamed to admit that our oral hygiene routines could use a major freshening up. And we're guessing we're not alone. Below are the five biggest mistakes people make when it comes to caring for their smiles. 

1. You’re Not Flossing


Okay, okay: We all know we should be flossing, but is it really that bad if we skip it? The answer is a definite yes, say experts.  A lot of people have an aversion to flossing, but there is a wealth of evidence to support the additional benefits of flossing and brushing, as compared to brushing alone.  The combination of brushing and flossing lowers the risk of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease in which your gums are irritated, red, and swollen.

2. You’re Using the Wrong Toothbrush


Sometimes it seems like your teeth don’t really feel clean unless they get a good vigorous scrub. But using a toothbrush with stiff bristles to get a better buff might be doing more harm than good.  Dentists often recommend using a soft toothbrush with the goal of avoiding damage to the enamel and the gums.  Many studies have linked hard-bristled toothbrushes to increased enamel wear and gum recession.  In other words, a hard-bristled brush puts you on the fast track for sensitivity. Not a good thing.


3. ...And the Wrong Technique


But it’s not all about the bristle.  The stiffness of the toothbrush is less important than the brushing technique. To do it right, keep the brush at a 45-degree angle and scrub with alternating back and forth and rolling strokes.


4. You’re Brushing at the Wrong Times


It’s not all about the a.m./p.m routine. But it’s also not as simple as brushing after meals. A new body of research suggests that brushing immediately after a meal—especially if what you ate was acidic—is actually doing more damage to your chompers. Brushing too soon can actually push the acid from the meal into your teeth. If you want to do a post-snack scrub, wait at least 30 minutes.