You Get Your Timings Wrong
The technique you were taught as a child needs an update. When you eat, the sugars in your food weaken tooth enamel. Brush straight away and you strip away this protective layer.
Instead, you should wait at least an hour after meals, which gives your teeth a chance to firm up again. Better is to brush before breakfast. White teeth are worth the weird-tasting orange juice.
You Overload On Sugar Without Realising It
Although ideally, you wouldn’t drink orange juice at all. Whole fruit is bundled with fibre, which means the sugars aren’t as accessible.
Juicing fruit destroys the good stuff, which means you may as well wash down your cereal with a can of Coke. Ditto for smoothies. Stick to water or tea and get your five-a-day the proper way.
Your Mouthwash Belongs In The Drinks Cabinet
Boozy mouthwashes are good at killing bacteria. They’re less good at distinguishing good bacteria from the plaque-causing kind. Antibacterial versions, like Corsadyl, are equally undiscerning.
That’s bad news for your heart as well as your smile; research in the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine found that antiseptic mouthwashes up your heart attack risk by decimating the bacteria that helps blood vessels relax.
Switch to a flouridated, teetotal version instead, like Colgate Flourigard Alcohol Free Mouthwash (£4.49, Superdrug).
Your Mouthwash Fights Your Brush
What you swill is only as effective as when you swill it. The fluoride in toothpaste coats your teeth and protects them from decay. When you rinse with mouthwash straight away, you wash that defensive layer away.
Instead, stow a bottle in your desk drawer and use it an hour after lunch, to freshen your breath through the afternoon.
You Brush Too Much
Brushing your teeth buffs away the stains that can discolour them. But brush for longer than two minutes, more than twice a day, or bear down too hard on your teeth, and you can brush away the enamel as well.
If you want to top up after eating, chew sugar-free gum instead; it stimulates saliva, which acts as a natural antibacterial to help keep your teeth white.
You Don’t Floss
Flossing is not an optional extra when you’ve got some spare time. Your brush can’t reach around a third of your tooth surface – if you don’t floss, this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause decay and receding gums.
Floss straight after brushing, to pull leftover toothpaste between teeth and double the protection.
You Don’t Replace Your Toothbrush
Your dentist encouraging you to replace your toothbrush (or brush head) every three months isn’t just so he can sell more.
When the bristles are cut at the factory, they’re left jagged. They’re rounded off before being packaged, but over time this forgiving surface wears away and you end up with sharp bristles that can strip your tooth’s dentin and enamel.
Replace yours before the bristles lose their shape.