It’s fairly common knowledge that brushing your teeth is incredibly healthy and the best way to keep your smile looking great. But are you brushing your teeth and gums correctly? If not, you might actually be doing more harm to your pearly whites than you are helping them. Here are a few common errors people make when brushing their teeth that keep them from having a healthy smile.

Brushing Too Hard

You might think that scrubbing a bit harder is an easy way to get that extra grime and plaque off, but be careful. Brushing too hard can lead to damage to your teeth and gums, including scratches and even infection. If you come across something while brushing that seems like you need to brush extra hard to remove, you might want to schedule a teeth cleaning at your local dentist’s office.

Keeping Old Toothbrushes

Believe it or not, even toothbrushes have an expiration date. Even though it might not seem like it’s gone bad, you’ll probably need to replace your toothbrush every few months to prevent germ buildup that can harm your dental health. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends you change your toothbrush at the start of each season. Otherwise, your toothbrush will be spreading around those same germs and plaque that you’re trying to remove in the first place.

Not Brushing Enough

Having a busy morning routine is incredibly normal and common, but it’s important that you don’t neglect your health in your hurry. Most Americans only brush their teeth for half the suggested time, meaning that while you might be getting some brushing done, it’s not going to do enough. Brushing some is better than not brushing at all, but make sure you brush for a full two minutes twice daily – once in the morning and once at night.

Brushing Right After Eating

While it might make sense to brush all the leftover food off your teeth right after eating, this practice can actually harm your teeth. Any extra acidity left in bits of food stuck to your teeth, when combined with brushing, can wear down the enamel on your teeth if you brush too soon. Instead, wait at least 15 minutes before brushing after eating; this gives your body a chance to produce enough saliva to wash away the harmful acids and protect your teeth.

Ignoring Everything But Teeth

Your teeth make up the majority of your smile, but what about your gums and tongue? These are both important parts of dental health care that often go overlooked. When you’re brushing, make sure you floss properly too and be sure to clean your gums and tongue. This can also help prevent bad breath, so don’t forget these before a big night out.

Dental health care is incredibly important, but people don’t always know the best way to take care of their teeth. Using these tips can help keep your smile clean and healthy, even if you’re already brushing your teeth regularly.