While most of us have been brushing our teeth since we were only a few years old, most of us are doing it wrong. The truth is that while brushing your teeth is such an ingrained habit, most of us are in serious need of a tooth brushing brush up when it comes to technique. These bad habits can lead to cavities and gum disease. Here are a few tips to help you brush up on your tooth brushing skills.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 1: Not Using the Right Toothbrush

You shouldn’t have to strain to open your mouth in order to accommodate your toothbrush. If you are, you are using a toothbrush that is too big. So, consider the size of your mouth when choosing a brush. The comfortable the brush is, the more likely you are to use it, which is the number one goal of any dentist.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 2: Not Picking the Right Bristles

You should choose bristles that are just stiff enough to remove plaque but don’t harm your gums and other soft tissues of the mouth. The ADA recommends using a soft bristled brush at all times. Stiffer bristles will harm soft tissues and your teeth and that damage cannot be reversed. Also, choose synthetic bristles over natural to prevent bacterial growth.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 3: Not Brushing Often Enough or Long Enough

While you think you are brushing your teeth enough by hitting them with a brush in the morning and before bed, most dentists recommend you brush three times a day. This will prevent bacterial plaque from building up.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 4: Brushing Too Often or Too Hard

While most of us are guilty of not brushing enough, some are causing damage by brushing too often. This can also erode enamel, which can’t be replaced. Instead, avoid these problems by brushing three times a day, very gently, and for three minutes every day.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 5: Not Brushing Correctly

Rather than sanding your gums and teeth with your tooth brush, angle the brush at a 45 degree angle and use short, vertical strokes to clean your teeth without causing damage. Make sure that you clean both the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth using this same motion as well as your tongue.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 6: Not Following Up With a Rinse

Rinse your mouth and your toothbrush after every brushing to ensure a fresh start every time you brush. This will remove bacteria that is left on the surface of your teeth and your brush.