How much is too much? When it comes to toothpaste less is definitely more according to a top dentist.
Dr Aneka Khaira, award-winning cosmetic and restorative dentist at Vogue Dental, says a pea-sized amount is more than enough for adults, and using too much toothpaste can actually cause more harm then good.
"The amount of toothpaste you should put on your toothbrush can vary based on the type of toothpaste you use, your age, whether you rinse after brushing and your personal preferences," Dr Khaira explains.
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"It doesn’t matter whether you use a manual toothbrush or one with a spinning head or sonic vibrations, the size of the bristles or the type of toothbrush doesn’t determine how much toothpaste you should use.
"However, a fluoride toothpaste vs. a non-fluoride toothpaste is a factor in the amount of toothpaste you need and how you brush. Fluoride needs time to penetrate your teeth to provide its healthy benefits, but swallowing too much fluoride can be an issue for young children."
In general, adults need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, while children ages three and under need less, according to Dr Khaira. "The important part is that you brush your teeth twice daily and follow healthy oral hygiene habits. The right amount of toothpaste and using one that feels and tastes good will help make brushing your teeth more enjoyable and effective.
"When using too much toothpaste there is an excess of abrasives in your mouth which can lead to tooth structure loss and gum recession.
"The sad irony is that many adults brush especially hard and use a large amount of toothpaste – especially the whitening kind – in an effort to brighten and whiten their smile."
But using too much toothpaste isn't the only oral hygiene error lots of us are making. Here Dr Khaira highlights some other problems.
1. Brushing too hard
This is the most common mistake people make when brushing their teeth. There is a misconception that the power of your stroke is what cleans your teeth. It is the motion of your brush that does the cleaning.
Brushing your teeth too hard can wear out your tooth enamel and gums and cause tooth sensitivity. If the bristles of your tooth brush are too splayed out, you are brushing too hard. Over zealous brushing can lead to abrasion causing gum recession and tooth wear.
2. Keeping the same toothbrush
Most people will change their toothbrush twice a year. And this is not often enough. I recommend you change your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles are splayed. Not only is using a toothbrush for too long unhygienic, the brush typically loses its effectiveness after three months.
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3. Using the wrong toothpaste
All of the added features in toothpaste today come at a cost to your oral health. The abrasive chemicals and textures intended to whiten your teeth can actually strip them of the enamel, and as a result make them darker. My recommendation is to use the most natural and least abrasive toothpaste you can find.
4. Brushing the wrong area of the tooth
When you’re younger, you typically get cavities on the top of your teeth. As a result, you’re taught to brush your teeth only in that area. As an adult, the most important areas to brush are along your gum line, in between the teeth and the back of the teeth. Brushing should be done at a 45-degree angle, along the gum line with a special focus on the molars.
5. Not flossing
While this isn’t necessarily a brushing mistake, it’s a big mistake for your oral hygiene. Brushing can only reach certain parts of your teeth and flossing is needed to thoroughly clean your teeth. If you’re not used to flossing daily, start with the intention of flossing one or two teeth. Eventually you will work up to flossing your whole mouth, which will help prevent cavities and bad breath.
6. Using the wrong toothbrush
Among the most common brushing mistakes is not using the right toothbrush. There are two styles of toothbrushes to consider: manual and electric. Choose what feels comfortable and makes you want to brush your teeth regularly.
A manual toothbrush is portable and ready to use every time you need it. It makes no noise, and you have complete control over the pressure it puts on your teeth and gums.
An electric toothbrush requires charging and does make some noise whilst brushing. The rotating movement of the bristles makes it easier to clean between the teeth and the gum line. Some electric toothbrushes come with built in sensors to control how much pressure you are putting on your teeth and timers to indicate how long you should brush for, which can really come in handy.
7. Storing your toothbrush wet
The problem with storing your toothbrush wet is when you store your toothbrush in a confined space such as a drawer or cabinet. If it stays moist in a small space, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure it air dries before you put your toothbrush away.