8 Secrets of Healthy Smiles

Secret 1: A Regular Routine.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush – and flossing daily. Flossing can eliminate bacteria that your brush cannot reach. Good at-home care is the only way to prevent plaque buildup, other than regular dental checkups.

Secret 2: Regular Dental Checkups.

Regular oral health exams are an important step in keeping your mouth healthy. Current guidelines recommend seeing a dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. In addition to removing plaque and polishing your teeth, your dentist can apply fluoride, administer sealants, and look for any warning signs of gum disease and tooth decay.

Secret 3: Good Technique.

With each brushing session, you should slant your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and gently move it in a circular motion – rather than a back-and-forth motion – for a minimum of two minutes. Don’t forget to clean your tongue too.

Secret 4: The Right Tools.

Be sure both your toothpaste and mouthwash contain fluoride. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months and rinse it thoroughly after you brush – you don’t want to transfer bacteria to your mouth!

Secret 5: No Abuse.

Using teeth for odd jobs – like tearing something open or uncapping a bottle – can lead to chipping, fracture, and other trauma. Bottom line: don’t use teeth as tools!

Secret 6: Good Nutrition.

A balanced, low-sugar diet can go a long way in protecting your teeth. Foods that are firm and crisp – like apples, celery, and carrots – can actually help clean teeth as they’re eaten. If you do partake in sweet treats, be sure to brush immediately after consumption to remove excess sugar.

Secret 7: A Good Rinse.

If you can, take some time to rinse your mouth out after eating. A swig of water will dilute the acid that attacks your tooth enamel for at least 20 minutes every time you eat.

Secret 8: Being Proactive.

Be sure to see your dentist immediately if you have any problems, such as a tooth sensitivity, a toothache, or a sore. Usually the sooner you can treat a problem, the better.

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