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Tips for a Healthier Smile, Healthier You

When getting your teeth cleaned, many just look forward to a whiter smile (and hope that the dentist doesn’t find out how frequently you skip flossing). But mouth hygiene goes beyond cosmetic appeal. In fact, healthy chompers and gums actually help protect your body’s well-being. For example, did you know that gum disease plays a role in the risk for heart disease, stroke, and—for women—pregnancy complications?

Do your whole body a favor and brush up on your oral hygiene!

Replacing Your Toothbrush

  • What you probably do now:Change out the toothbrush when it starts looking icky.

  • What you should be doing:Buy a new toothbrush every three or four months (or sooner). Whether you have a manual or electronic toothbrush, frayed bristles don’t do a good enough job cleaning your teeth.

Brushing Habits

  • What you probably do now: Brush your teeth in the morning and at night.

  • What you should be doing: The good news here is that you don’t have to change your brushing schedule, but you may need to time yourself at the sink. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day, two minutes each time. Also, make sure you don’t brush immediately after eating. Wait at least an hour—brushing too soon can erode the hard surface of your teeth.

Flossing 101

  • What you probably do now: Maybe floss a couple nights a week, if at all.

  • What you should be doing: Everyone knows that we should floss at least once a day, but did you know there’s a right and a wrong way to floss? Wiggling it between your teeth isn’t enough. You need to use a gentle rubbing motion as you guide it between your teeth. Then, once the floss reaches your gums, curve it into a C shape around one tooth and slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Repeat these steps for the rest of your teeth.

Rinsing with Mouthwash

  • What you probably do now: Swoosh when you want to freshen up your breath.

  • What you should be doing: Mouthwash should accompany brushing and flossing. Not only does it protect against gum disease and cavities, but it can also relieve dry mouth or pain from oral sores. When shopping, choose a mouthwash with the ADA seal of approval. And double check the label’s instructions to find out if you should use it before or after brushing.

 

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