Proper oral hygiene can mean fewer cavities and less risk of gum disease and other serious oral conditions that could lead to tooth loss; you will also have fresher breath when you care for your teeth properly, and less risk of teeth becoming discoloured over time. However, note a few mistakes that many people make that can actually hurt their teeth and gums, and then discuss your oral care routine with your dentist as needed

Brushing too long and too hard

You need to brush your teeth for several minutes in order to do a thorough job; simply running the brush over them quickly won't be enough to remove all the bacteria, food particles, and everything else in your mouth that's stuck on your teeth. You should also take time to brush your tongue and your gums, to remove even more food debris.

What you don't want to do is continue to brush after those few minutes and after you've done a thorough job, as brushing too long can wear down the enamel of teeth. It can also be irritating for gums, causing abrasions that can lead to bleeding and the risk of oral infections.

Brushing too hard should also be avoided, for the same reasons. Use a soft-bristled brush and light pressure on the teeth and gums; keep the brush moving as well, so you don't spend too much time in any one spot. If your toothbrush begins to look flattened, you're pushing too hard on the teeth and should use a gentler motion.

Homemade products

Many homemade products for brushing teeth can be overly abrasive or drying; baking soda, for example, absorbs moisture, and peroxide also dries the skin inside the mouth. Dry mouth can lead to cavities, as saliva helps to wash away food particles, bacteria, and germs.

Sea salt is another common ingredient in homemade toothpaste, but it can also be very abrasive and actually damage the enamel of the teeth. Adding essential oils to homemade toothpaste can help to lessen these risks, but using too much of these ingredients can still mean enamel erosion, irritated gums, and other damage to the teeth and mouth.


You may know to limit soda drinking, as the acids in colas can wear away tooth enamel. However, there are acids in citrus fruits, many types of sports drinks, and coffee. Talk to your dentist about a safe amount of these beverages and fruits, and ensure your teeth are always checked for potential decay if any of these are part of your everyday diet.