You’ve probably heard the advice that you should brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. But how long do you really spend with a toothbrush in hand?
As it turns out, most people fall far short of this benchmark. Most people spend a mere 45 seconds brushing their teeth — and that’s just one way we fall short in terms of oral care.
Indeed, there are lots of other tips out there for improving your dental care. Want healthy teeth and gums? Then try these nine tools for achieving a sparkling smile.
1. Brush Your Entire Mouth
We’ve already touched on the importance of a good teeth-brushing session. You should spend two minutes scouring your teeth.
Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle so that it’s touching both the teeth and gums. Then, start cleaning by moving the brush both up and down and side to side.
You haven’t finished after your two minutes are up, though. It would be best if you were cleaning the roof of your mouth, too, as well as your tongue. These areas hold onto the bacteria that cause bad breath.
So, scrub down these areas, too, before rinsing out your mouth.
2. Downsize Your Toothbrush
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to teeth care.
You should opt for a small- or medium-sized toothbrush with thin bristles to give your mouth a more thorough clean. It’s much easier to get in between your molars and remove debris with a finer brush. So, ditch larger models for something more adept at accessing the smallest bits of food and bacteria.
3. Choose a Quality Toothpaste
You can’t expect your toothbrush to work wonders on its own. It’s imperative that you choose a high-quality toothpaste, too.
Luckily, it’s easy to find dentist-approved formulas. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the box or tube before buying your next dose of toothpaste.
The ones with the seal have the right amount of fluoride to protect and strengthen teeth with each brushing. You can look for it in person or pre-approve your purchase by finding it on the ADA’s list of greenlit products.
4. Avoid Staining Substances
If you want to keep your smile sparkling and white, then you should avoid foods, beverages and vices that stain them.
The list of offenders is long: everything from tea to soy sauce to red wine to tobacco can change the color of your teeth. You don’t have to avoid them altogether, although most experts agree that quitting a tobacco habit is a huge boon to your oral health.
Otherwise, use straws for drinking dark liquids, so they bypass your teeth. And brush after eating or drinking a notoriously staining substance.
5. Floss Your Teeth
Your two-minute teeth-brushing routine isn’t always enough to get rid of hidden or lodged bacteria. That’s where floss comes in.
With a bit of waxed string, you can further scour your teeth. Slide it between your chompers and create a C-shape around each one, moving the floss back and forth. This step will ensure you get all of the dirt and plaque from all sides of your teeth.
Be sure that you use a new section of floss for each tooth. Otherwise, you could be spreading bacteria from one crevice to another, thus defeating the purpose of flossing in the first place.
6. Skip Late-Night Snacks
You should eat when you’re hungry, of course. But if you get up for a bite in the middle of the night, there’s a good chance you won’t brush afterward.
If you leave food on or between your teeth overnight, you’re giving oral bacteria food and fuel to grow. So, either skip your post-brushing snacks or brush for a second time after you eat.
7. Add Mouthwash to Your Routine
You’ve already started brushing longer and flossing your teeth. Surprisingly, there could still be bacteria hiding between your teeth and at your gum line.
So, find a mouthwash to add to your teeth-cleaning routine. Swish it around your mouth and let it scour for plaque that can cause gingivitis, a precursor to a much more serious gum condition, periodontitis.
8. Clean Your Dental Accessories
A clean toothbrush does the best job of keeping your mouth in the same state. So, rinse your brush after each use and let it air dry before using it again. The ADA has advised against covering your toothbrush, as this can create an ideally dank breeding ground for bacteria.
On that note, you should make sure the rest of your dental accessories are equally as clean. For instance, if your child has gotten Invisalign for teens, they should be brushing their aligners before re-inserting them. Bacteria can linger there, just as it can on a toothbrush.
9. See Your Dentist Regularly
Finally, you can preserve your pearly whites with regular visits to your dentist.
Following the above steps will certainly get you on the path to improved oral health. However, your dentist will be able to give you more tailored tips to improve your oral care.
You could have an underlying dental issue that you can’t spot on your own, even if your teeth look clean and white. So, stick to the recommended twice-a-year visits to the dentist to keep your health in check.
Improve Your Oral Care
These nine tips are more than enough to get you started on your quest to brighten your smile. More importantly, though, proper oral care will improve the health of your teeth and gums. That way, you can keep showing off your pearly whites for years to come.
And don’t forget to check out the dental-centric section of our site for more advice.