Despite the fact that there’s no shortage of toothpaste and toothbrush brands to choose from at any drugstore, many people don’t brush their teeth the way they should. In fact, almost 30% of Americans brush their teeth only once a day, and another 2% claim they don’t brush them at all (shudder!)
Cleaning your teeth is the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease and remove stains left behind by certain foods and drinks. But are you caring for them the right way? Here are some must-know tips for stepping up your teeth cleaning game that you should practice every day.
Brush After—Not Before—Meals
Many people like to brush their teeth upon awakening in the morning to help eliminate morning breath. However, if you plan on eating breakfast shortly afterward, cleaning your teeth right away is pointless because they’re going to get dirty and will stay that way throughout the day unless you plan on brushing them again.
If morning breath really bothers you, drink a glass of water upon awakening to help wash the bacteria that causes sour breath away. Then wait until after you’ve had your breakfast to clean your teeth.
If citrus juice or fruit is part of the meal, wait for at least a half-hour before brushing. This is because brushing too soon can remove tooth enamel weakened by the acid in these foods.
Brush For a Full Two Minutes
Two minutes may seem like an eternity when you’re brushing your teeth, but it ensures you’ve reached every surface including the backs of your front and bottom teeth. Set a timer on your phone or play a favorite tune that lasts at least two minutes long to help you along.
When you’re done, don’t forget to brush your tongue. Doing this step will remove bacteria build-up and help freshen your breath.
Floss Every Day
Many people consider flossing to be a chore, but it helps prevent cavities from forming between teeth. It also wards off and can even reverse the earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis.
Aim to floss at least once every single day. Do it at bedtime before brushing your teeth, as you’ll dislodge food particles that can then be swept away by your toothbrush.
Only use ADA-approved flossing tools to clean in between your teeth such as floss, handheld flossers, and flossing brushes. Water-powered flossers can also be effective at removing plaque. Avoid using objects such as your fingernails, toothpicks, and utensils to remove food stuck in between your teeth. You can chip a tooth or injure your gums.
You’ll want to hold the floss snuggly against the surface of a tooth and scrape it up and down to loosen and remove plaque and pieces of food. Reach up gently underneath the gumline to ensure plaque is removed from this area as well.
Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush (and a Soft Touch)
Hard bristles can compromise tooth enamel and injure your gums. Always choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and use a gentle touch when cleaning your teeth. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and move it in small circles to gently scrub away plaque.
Use your favorite fluoride toothpaste to make the chore more pleasurable for you. Experiment with different brands of toothpaste and toothbrushes to find the right combination that will actually make you look forward to brushing your teeth. Check out these effective teeth brushing techniques for the best results.
Invest In an Electric Toothbrush
Even if you’re the most careful and thorough brusher, your oral care skills are no match for a rechargeable electric toothbrush. Whether you choose one with a round oscillating brush head or a sonic vibrating one, an electric toothbrush is far more effective at removing plaque than a manual one, hands down.
They also make brushing teeth less of a chore since they do most of the work for you. You just need to move it around your mouth, section by section. Some models vibrate or chime to indicate when it’s time for you to move the brush to another part of your mouth.
Electric toothbrushes are programmed to brush for at least two minutes, so you don’t have to worry about timing yourself or wondering if you’ve been brushing long enough to do the job. And there are many models available that address specific dental needs from those that remove more stains to help make teeth whiter to ones that keep your gums healthy.
The one downside to using an electric toothbrush is that the brush heads cost much more to replace compared to replacing a manual toothbrush. But this is still a small price to pay for super clean teeth and healthier gums.
Consider Using Mouthwash
Mouthwash does more than freshen your breath. Swishing your teeth with mouthwash provides extra assurance that most germs are gone. Many types of mouthwash are formulated to help fight gingivitis and can even reverse it.
Be sure to push the mouthwash in between your teeth so that it reaches every surface area and below the gumline. Swish for a full minute or as directed on the bottle for the most effective results.
Try Oil Pulling
Many people swear by oil pulling to help prevent cavities and whiten teeth naturally. It consists of swishing a tablespoon or more of oil (usually coconut oil) around your mouth for an extended period of time, usually 10 or 15 minutes.
There are currently no scientific studies linking oil pulling to a reduction in tooth decay and gum disease or tooth whitening, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try to see results for yourself.
Try These Teeth Cleaning Tips Today
The best part about putting these tips into practice? Your dental cleanings and exams are sure to be smooth sailing and you’ll enjoy a healthy and shiny smile.
For more insider tips on keeping your smile bright, browse our Healthy Teeth archive of helpful posts!