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When it comes to our oral health, most of us know what needs to be done: brush, floss, and rinse.

But even when we do everything we “should” be doing, we somehow still end up with cavities or gingivitis. Why?

It turns out there are actually a few ways you may be self-sabotaging your oral health without even realizing it. Read on to learn about some of the top mistakes you may be making with your oral health — and what you can do to fix them.

1. You’re Still Using a Manual Toothbrush

teeth brushing tips
New Girl (2011-2018)

If you’re still using an old-school toothbrush, it’s time to upgrade. The safest option is a soft-bristled electric toothbrush, which offers the movement and cleaning power you need. Of course, there are lots of electric toothbrush products out there so you’ll need to do your own research and find the one that you feel will offer you what you need at a price point that works for you. You don’t need a really expensive one though; there are cheap options out there.

2. Your Toothpaste Doesn’t Contain Fluoride

teeth brushing movie scenes
Monsters, Inc (2001)

Unfortunately, the last few years have seen the rise of fluoride-free toothpaste, especially in the natural toothpaste world. But don’t be fooled! You *need* fluoride. If you’re interested in ditching some of the extra chemicals though, there are plenty of natural toothpaste brands that contain fluoride — just be sure to read the label carefully!

3. You Never Replace Your Toothbrush

the muppets movie
The Muppets (2011)

Just as important as brushing regularly and properly is knowing when it’s time to switch your toothbrush for a new one. If you want to keep your teeth clean and healthy, you need to have a good brush in place that’s not worn out and past its best. And that obviously goes for electric toothbrushes as well. Replaceable heads are meant to be replaced, so don’t carry on using your old ones for longer than you should. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you replace them every three months or so.

4. You Neglect Your Tongue

tv characters teeth brushing
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

One of your most important goals when it comes to your oral health is protecting yourself against the risk of plaque. This is a damaging substance that can cause other more serious dental and oral health problems when it’s allowed to build up. And it’s important to know that plaque doesn’t just impact the gums and teeth, it can also build up on your tongue as well. To avoid that happening, you should gently brush your tongue as you would your teeth. This will combat the plaque and prevent buildup.

5. You Don’t Drink Enough Water

supernatural castiel drinking water
Supernatural (2005-2020)

Drinking more water each day is a piece of advice that’ll never steer you wrong. We all need to keep ourselves hydrated and do everything possible to take on as much hydration as we need throughout the day. However, not everyone realizes that one of the benefits of drinking plenty of water is that it helps keep your teeth and mouth healthy. It can wash away potentially damaging elements such as sugars. And when you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking the liquids that are far more damaging to your teeth and mouth.

6. You Don’t Use the Right Floss

seinfled toothbrush episode
Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Flossing is an oral health habit that you’ll definitely want to stay on top of. It’s easy to overlook and to tell yourself that brushing is enough, but flossing can remove the things that brushing doesn’t. If you want to achieve the very best flossing experience, you should choose Instafloss or another similar product. There are different options out there, and you can read this guide on Waterpik vs Instafloss if you want to get a better idea of which of those two options might be the better one for you and your oral health going forward.

7. You Skip Your Dental Check-Ups

psych gus dentist episode
Psych (2006-2014)

It’s easy to feel like you don’t need to go to your six-month check-up when you’re not experiencing any pain or bleeding. But you need to keep up with your appointments to make sure your mouth is nice and healthy. It’s much better to catch a cavity when it’s small than wait until you’re in a ton of pain and need a root canal.

If your teeth are too yellowed to be corrected with regular cleanings, you might want to consider snap on veneers.

8. You Use Toothpicks

ryan gosling toothpick drive
Drive (2011)

Sometimes, doing less can help your oral health as well. One mistake many people make is using toothpicks to remove dirt and debris from their teeth. This might sound like a healthy move, but it’s something that can be done with flossing. If you use a toothpick, you’ll run the risk of damaging your gums and creating gaps and openings where bacteria can enter and take hold. This is one of the most common ways in which gum disease issues can begin.

9. You’re Not Using Mouthwash

bring it on tooth brushing scene
Bring it On (2000)

If you’re not using mouthwash on a regular basis, that’s certainly something that you should look to change. Doing so makes a lot of sense from your point of view and it allows you to give your oral health an added layer of protection after brushing and flossing. It’s definitely something to consider and work on if you haven’t done so already. It can be easy to forget and ignore this step but making it part of a regular routine should help to make it stick for you.

10. You’re Eating Too Much Acidic or Sugary Food

elf spaghetti scene
Elf (2003)

Of course, your diet will also have an impact on your oral health, and that’s why you need to factor in your teeth and mouth when making decisions about what to eat. It’s best for your mouth and teeth if you avoid too many foods and drinks that are high in sugar and high in acid. Both of those things are quite bad for your mouth and are best avoided. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you enjoy from time to time, but limit them.

11. You’re Still Smoking

bridget jones diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

If you’re someone who still smokes and you want to change that, you should definitely go ahead and make that happen sooner rather than later. Smoking is obviously bad for your health in lots of different ways, but it’s also one of the leading causes of gum disease and tooth loss. That’s something that people often overlook.

If you’re concerned about your dental health, be sure to see your dentist. They’ll be able to give you the direct help you need and carry out any specific interventions that might be necessary. Otherwise, be sure to follow the advice outlined above and keep your mouth and teeth as healthy as they can be.

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Categories: Health