In our quest for the perfect pearly whites, our bathroom cabinets are stocked with whitening toothpastes, floss and mouthwashes.
But when it comes to oral health, a top dentist has revealed our best intentions could in fact be potentially damaging to our teeth.
Dr Tariq Idrees, dentist and owner of Carisbrook Dental Clinic in Manchester, said millions of people are unwittingly destroying their teeth with everyday habits, they think would be beneficial.
He said electric toothbrushes can prove ‘useless’ if they are not used correctly, and you can harm your teeth by rinsing too soon with water after brushing, brushing too much, at the wrong times or in the wrong way.
Here, he reveals the ten things which you make think are good for your teeth but are not.
1. Electric toothbrushes
Electric toothbrushes – yes, this may sound strange but if you are not using the right technique, they can be useless.
With most electric toothbrushes you only need to touch the tooth with the bristles.
If you push too hard the bristles bend and are not effective.
Take your electric toothbrush with you and ask your dental hygienist for a demonstration.
2. Whitening toothpastes
Abrasive tooth pastes such as bicarbonate or whitening pastes.
They are abrasive and can wear your enamel away and in the long-term lead to sensitivity and darkening of your teeth as the enamel wears and the inner amber-coloured dentine becomes visible.
3. Rinsing too soon with water after brushing
We all use water to clean our teeth but swishing water in your mouth too soon after brushing washes away much of the fluoride with it and minimises your toothpaste’s effectiveness.
If you feel the need to rinse out your mouth after brushing, use a (non alcohol-based) mouthwash.
You shouldn’t eat or drink for at least half an hour after brushing your teeth.
4. Brushing your teeth too hard
Poor tooth brushing techniques can harm your teeth – if you really scrub your teeth too hard, you will wear the sides of your teeth down, leaving V-shaped defects near the gum margins.
Also, don’t always start brushing the same place.
If you always start on the top right side, that section is going to get the most attention.
Most people get bored as they are brushing, so the areas covered last get the least attention.
Mix-up your brushing technique so all areas are covered adequately.
You should brush in a circular motion – rather than from side to side.
Alcohol-based mouth washes can be harsh and long-term use has been linked to development of oral cancers.
Studies have found that excessive use – three times a day – presents a health risk.
Again the wrong technique such as a sawing motion can cause damage and recession of the gums.
You should slide the floss gently up-and-down between your teeth.
7. Brushing at the wrong times and too much
This can cause damage as well. Do not brush straight after eating citrus/acidic fruits or after wine.
The tooth enamel is softened by the acid and brushing straight after will wear the teeth down.
Instead wait for 30 minutes for the acids to neutralise before brushing or even use a fluoride mouthwash to help neutralise the acid.
8. Holistic toothpastes
They are becoming more and more popular.
However, I see patients using these suddenly developing tooth decay or gum issues.
Unfortunately they tend to have little science behind them. If a toothpaste is fluoride free I would not recommend it.
Fluoride has been proven without doubt to prevent tooth decay.
A holistic toothpaste without fluoride may help with gum disease prevention but not tooth decay.
9. Hard toothbrushes
Hard toothbrushes can cause excessive wear and recession of the gums.
10. Brushing your teeth for 45 seconds
Surveys show that as many 43 per cent of patients brush their teeth for just 45 seconds.
This is not long enough to give them a proper clean.
You should clean your teeth for at least two minutes