I'm a dentist – avoid these mistakes when brushing your teeth

I’m a dentist and these are the 5 mistakes you’re making when brushing your teeth (and they could lead to premature tooth loss)

  • Payal Bhalla, a dentist based in Ipswich, Suffolk, has revealed the blunders to fix
  • READ MORE: I’m a dentist and this is what your teeth say about YOUR personality

Cleaning your teeth is such a set habit in our day-to-day routines that you probably don’t even think about it.

But you could be making easy-to-fix mistakes that undermine the daily ritual which your oral health largely relies on.

These include not paying attention to your tongue, as well as keeping an old brush around for too long.

Payal Bhalla, Lead Dentist and Clinical Director of Quest Dental in Ipswich, Suffolk, has now revealed some unexpected blunders you could be guilty of – like brushing in the same pattern every time.

Speaking to FEMAIL, she explained the five different mistakes you could be making – and how each could ultimately lead to teeth loss. 

Payal Bhalla, Lead Dentist and Clinical Director of Quest Dental in Ipswich, Suffolk, has now revealed some unexpected blunders you could be guilty of – like brushing in the same pattern every time (stock image)  


‘I typically advise brushing for a minimum of two minutes, twice a day,’ Payal explained.

‘This duration is crucial because it allows enough time to thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth, including hard-to-reach areas.’

She said that splitting the two minutes evenly between the upper and lower teeth is key, ‘as well as focusing on the front, back, and chewing surfaces’ to ensure comprehensive cleaning.

The dentist also advises using a ‘gentle circular motion’ to reach all areas, which includes the gumline. 

This helps to remove plaque, food particles and bacteria.

Payal explained: ‘Two minutes is a general guideline, and some individuals may require more or less time depending on their specific oral health needs.’

‘Insufficient brushing time can leave behind harmful substances, increasing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

‘Moreover, the recommended duration allows the fluoride in toothpaste to have sufficient contact with your teeth, promoting remineralisation and strengthening of the enamel.’


Payal revealed that it’s ‘crucial’ to never ignore the tongue when brushing our teeth. 

‘The tongue is a haven for bacteria, food particles, and dead cells, making it a potential breeding ground for bad breath and oral health issues,’ she added.

‘Neglecting the tongue during oral hygiene routines can allow these harmful substances to accumulate, leading to an unpleasant odor and an increased risk of dental problems.’

This could contribute to plaque formation, tooth decay and even gum disease. 

And if you don’t take care of your tongue, all your good tooth-brushing may have been for nothing as you’re leaving behind a ‘significant source of oral bacteria’.

‘Including tongue cleaning as part of your oral hygiene routine by gently brushing or using a tongue scraper helps to remove the buildup of bacteria, promote fresh breath, and contribute to overall oral health and hygiene,’ Payal suggested.


The dental expert says that brushing too hard can have ‘negative consequences’ – even if it may feel like you’re putting more work in.

‘When you brush your teeth vigorously or use excessive force, it can cause damage to your gums and tooth enamel,’ Payal warned.

‘The enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth, and if it wears away, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, cavities, and an increased risk of tooth decay.’

Being aggressive with your technique could also irritate and damage your gums. 

‘Additionally, brushing too hard does not necessarily mean you are cleaning your teeth more effectively,’ Payal said.

‘Using a gentle and circular motion with a soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended to effectively remove plaque and food particles without harming your teeth or gums. 

‘It’s important to strike the right balance by brushing your teeth thoroughly but gently to maintain optimal oral health.’


‘Regularly changing your toothbrush is crucial for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing potential dangers,’ the dental pro warned.

‘Failing to do so can lead to several risks. Over time, toothbrush bristles become frayed and less effective at removing plaque and food particles from your teeth and gums.’

This could result in bacteria accumulation, increased likelihood of tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.

‘Additionally, an old toothbrush may harbor harmful bacteria and pathogens, posing a risk of infection or illness,’ she said.

‘It is recommended to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become worn, ensuring optimal oral health and reducing potential hazards.’


Using the same pattern everyday could mean you’re missing covering vital areas on a daily basis, Payal explained. 

‘When brushing your teeth, there are some key motions and patterns that the dentist would advise, this is to ensure you are cleaning every area of the tooth and not missing spots,’ she said.

‘If you always brush your teeth in the same pattern every day, for example starting in the upper left and ending at the lower right then there’s a good chance your missing areas every day.

‘To prevent this you should change up the pattern in which you brush your teeth.

‘You may have to start focusing on your brushing, but this will ensure that the teeth are being cleaned properly and no areas are missing out.’

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