It’s a new year and we all have new resolutions and goals to accomplish in 2017. We take small steps towards achieving some of our goals every single day, and progress on other goals may take a bit longer. One thing I know as a periodontist is to brush your teeth at least twice daily. So we can all strive towards better oral health because we all (I hope!) brush our teeth morning and night. Although we might be brushing our teeth the recommended amount, are we doing it right? Here are 7 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2017.

Keeping Your Brush Too Long

tooth brush before and after extended use

One toothbrush before & after.

Did you know the average life of a toothbrush is 3-4 months? Make a resolution to change your toothbrush with every season this year. Frayed and broken bristles won’t keep your teeth clean—these are signs it’s time to let go. When you’re shopping, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Not Brushing Long Enough

60 minute timer

Speed demons, listen up! Your teeth should be brushed for a full two minutes, twice per day. Most of us fall short —the average time most people spend brushing is 45 seconds. If you’re racing through cleaning, try setting a timer. Or distract yourself by humming your favorite tune!

Brushing Too Hard or With Too Much Toothpaste

woman brushing teeth too hard

Young woman brushing teeth, too hard!

Be gentle with your teeth. You may think brushing harder will remove more leftover food and the bacteria that loves to eat it, but a gentle brushing is all that’s needed. Too much pressure may wear down the hard outer shell on your teeth and damage your gums.

Toothpaste can be very abrasive to teeth and their roots. Use little to no toothpaste. Some patients may be prescribed additional fluoride gels or pastes, as fluoride is important to use daily to low the risk of tooth decay.

Brushing Right After Eating

Empty plate left after dinner

If you feel the need to clean your teeth after eating or drinking, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing—especially if you have had something acidic like lemons, grapefruit or soda. Drink water or chew sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to help clean your mouth while you are waiting to brush.

Storing Your Brush Improperly

High angle view of tooth brushes in a tooth brush holder

When you’re done brushing, keep your toothbrush upright and let it air dry in the open. Don’t keep your toothbrush in a closed container, where germs have more opportunity to grow, and if your toothbrush is in a holder next to another, keep them separated like the photo above.

Using a Brush With Hard Bristles

always use a soft toothbrush

Soft bristles are the way to go. You don’t want to use medium or hard bristles because these may wear down the outer shell of your teeth and may cause sensitivity when eating or drinking cold food and beverages.

Using Improper Brushing Technique

Get your best brush with these steps: First, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Then, gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes. Next, brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Finally, To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.


By being aware of these 7 Bad Brushing Habits you will be able to move towards your dental hygiene goal in no time!