When you think of all the difficult tasks you can engage in during your daily routine, brushing your teeth probably never comes up. After all, you’ve been doing it since you were little.

However, it’s easier than you think to make tooth brushing mistakes, putting your oral hygiene at risk. Below are ways you’ve been doing this task wrongly:

Your Bristles Are Too Hard

Hard bristles are often too harsh for your teeth and gums, so most dentists don’t recommend them. Instead, choose soft or ultra-soft bristles that can gently get down under the gum line. Hard and medium brushes don’t do that and can actually abrade the gum.

Your Toothbrush Head Is Large

Your toothbrush should fit your mouth comfortably and it is best to go for smaller ones. Unless you have a large mouth, compact brush heads do a better job of helping you access those hard-to-reach and hard-to-see molars.

Failing To Brush Long Enough

The Nigerian Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes, but many people fail at this, without even realizing it.

Different studies have timed people brushing their teeth and asked them how long they thought they did it for.

Some people thought they’d brushed for a couple of minutes, but it can be less than half a minute, an indication that our perception of how long we’re brushing is not very accurate.

Brushing Too Hard

If you brush your teeth like you are brushing your shoes, you’re doing more harm than good. When you press hard against your teeth and gums, you get a satisfying sensation that you’re really getting the teeth clean, but it’s not making your teeth cleaner.

The point of brushing is to remove plaque—a bacterial film—which is sticky but also soft, so you don’t need to go hard on your teeth to remove it. Pushing too hard can overstress the gum tissue and cause it to recede, exposing part of the tooth’s root.

That area can become sensitive to hot and cold. The root is also more susceptible to cavities than the hard enamel part of the tooth.

You’re Brushing at Wrong Angles

Brushing straight across like you’re playing the violin isn’t the best way to brush your pearly whites.

It is ideal to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle—upward for your top teeth and downward for your bottom teeth—so the bristles can sweep and clean under the gum line where plaque can hide.

If you have an electric sonic toothbrush, you don’t need to angle the brush to 45 degrees. They’re designed to go straight on the tooth and you just hold it there for a few seconds.

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