When it comes to taking care of your teeth and gums, we have lots to say. I mean really, we’ve got good oral health covered from A to Z. But if you really want us to boil it down to the key things that make the biggest difference, this tip sheet has you covered.
Brush twice a day
This is the tip that sits at the top of the heap. If there was only one thing you could commit to, this should be it. But you have to do it right. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the average person brushes their teeth for 45 to 70 seconds per day, which falls well short of the two minutes that’s recommended. In addition to the amount of time, you need to make sure that your brushing technique is on point:
- For best results, use a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Hold your brush at a 45° angle (against your gum line) and brush back and forth
- Cover the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth
- After you finish brushing your teeth, use your toothbrush to clean your tongue
Floss once a day
If you’ve been to the dentist recently, you probably were asked if you floss regularly. Did you give an uneasy “Ummm yes, every day” as your answer? Well, your dentist can tell if this is not true. If you did fudge the flossing facts, at least you’re not alone. One survey revealed that 44% of respondents admitted to exaggerating their flossing habits. After brushing, flossing is the next big pillar of oral health. It helps prevent cavities and gum disease, removes plaque, and stop tartar in its tracks. Flossing is fabulous! Here’s the right way to get your floss on:
- Take around 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle fingers of both hands
- Use your forefingers and thumbs to hold around 2 inches of floss, then slide the floss into the gap between two of your teeth
- Follow the curve of one tooth up to the gum line
- When you reach the gum line, bend your floss into a ‘C’ shape and move it up and down away from the gums
- Continue this way, moving between all of your teeth (don’t forget the ones way in the back!), unwinding a bit of the floss around your fingers each time so you’re always using a fresh section
- When you’re done, toss that floss
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months
According to the American Dental Association, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months. This way, you won’t have to deal with an ineffective, frayed brush that’s incapable of removing plaque. The type of toothbrush (manual, electric, hard, soft) largely comes down to personal preference, but it’s worth remembering that hard-bristled brushes are much more likely to wear away at your enamel.
Be mindful of what you eat and drink
A daily brushing and flossing routine is your foundation. But you can make those two jobs even easier if you understand how certain foods and drinks impact your teeth. We have our very own “naughty” and “nice” list to help you know which foods and drinks to avoid, and which ones actually help promote oral health.
Foods to avoid:
- Sugary snacks like candy, soda (even diet soda), cakes, and cereals create an acidic environment that can wear away tooth enamel
- Starchy foods like bread, crackers, or cookies can do the same
- Citrus – particularly lemon – is another culprit here too
- Drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your teeth, so try drinking through a straw to bypass bathing your teeth in these dark-staining liquids
Foods to include:
- Apples are high in water and fiber, and their crunchy texture can scrub teeth and stimulate your gums
- Cheese is a better snack choice than sugary or starch options, and the protein and calcium it contains can strengthen tooth enamel
- Vegetables and leafy greens have plenty of vitamins, and they’re also high in calcium
- Drink water or milk to stay hydrated without staining your teeth
See your dentist twice a year
And finally, regular dental checkups are the remaining piece of the oral health puzzle. By visiting your dentist every six months, you can catch any serious dental problems (like gum disease, tooth abscesses or cavities) at the early stages. Make dental visits a part of your regular medical routine and enjoy all the health benefits a healthy smile will bring.