6 Ways to Revolutionize How You Take Care of Your Teeth
Having a nice smile and fresh breath is pleasant, but do you really know if you’re taking the best care of your teeth? Brushing your teeth twice a day is a good start, but most people don’t know that there is more that you can do to keep your mouth healthy and happy. Keep reading to learn what you can do to take care of your oral health and reduce your stress at the dentist.
Tips to Take Care of Your Teeth
1. Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Some people consider toothbrushes made with harder bristles better at getting teeth clean, but this is not the case. Harder bristles have little flexibility for getting into tight areas between teeth and can cause more abrasions to dental enamel compared to soft-bristled toothbrushes.1
The American Dental Association recommends using soft-bristled toothbrushes to remove plaque and support oral health. Soft bristles have an additional advantage by bending to get right under the gums to break up hidden bacteria. Always replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months to maintain the effectiveness of the bristles.[2,3]
2. Wait to Brush After Acidic Foods
It may be tempting to immediately brush your teeth after a meal to promote fresh breath, but sometimes waiting to brush your teeth can improve your oral health. This is especially true after eating acidic foods. Acidic foods and beverages such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, soda, and wine have a low pH that temporarily softens the enamel of your teeth.4
Weakened tooth enamel makes a tooth more prone to erosion from regular tooth brushing and dental issues such as tooth decay. To preserve tooth enamel, rinse your mouth with water, then wait to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes to an hour after having acidic foods to minimize any damage.
3. Limit Your Use of Mouthwash
Attempting to achieve fresh breath with mouthwash can come with its own downsides to your oral health.
Alcohol-based mouthwashes can irritate gums, cause dry mouth, stain teeth, and increase pain or sensitivity when brushing teeth. Alcohol-based mouthwashes also kill nearly all of the bacteria in the mouth, disrupting the balance of microbes in the oral microbiome.5
If you still want to freshen up your breath, natural, alcohol-free mouthwashes can sweeten up your breath without getting rid of all of your beneficial bacteria. [6,7]
4. Keep Your Mouth Hydrated
Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay by making it easier for acids, food particles, and plaque to remain on the teeth.
Certain medications and health conditions can limit how much saliva you naturally produce, but some habits also contribute to dry mouth. Tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol are known to cause dry mouth and increase the risk of tooth decay.8
Regularly drinking water, chewing sugar-free gum (such as ones that contain xylitol), using saliva substitutes, breathing through your nose, and using room humidifiers can improve the moisture in your mouth.
5. Use Proper Tooth Brushing Methods
We know that it is beneficial to brush our teeth, but not everyone uses the best methods for keeping their teeth clean.
The American Dental Association recommends a simple method for brushing your teeth properly3:
Place your brush at a 45-degree angle from the gums
Brush back and forth across your teeth in short strokes
Remember to brush all tooth surfaces including the inner, outer, and chewing surfaces
When cleaning the inside surfaces of front teeth, the brush should be vertical as you do up and down brush strokes
This process should take about 2 minutes and should be done twice daily. Boost your tooth brushing routine by flossing and brushing or scraping your tongue to remove additional plaque.
6. Avoid Sipping Sugary Beverages
Prolonging the time it takes to finish a sugar-sweetened beverage can have consequences for your teeth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that cause damage to your tooth enamel.9
When possible, choose unsweetened beverages like water or green tea to support a healthy mouth. If you do have a sugary drink, choose a smaller-sized beverage that is easy to finish quickly.
Along with these helpful tips, remember to regularly schedule visits with your dentist for cleanings and general check-ups.
Hamza, B., Tanner, M., Körner, P., Attin, T., & Wegehaupt, F. J. (2021). "Effect of toothbrush bristle stiffness and toothbrushing force on the abrasive dentine wear." International journal of dental hygiene. onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
American Dental Association. (n.d.) Toothbrushes. American Dental Association website. ada.org.
American Dental Association. (n.d.) Brush teeth. MouthHealthy.org.
Kanzow, P., Wegehaupt, F. J., Attin, T., & Wiegand, A. (2016). "Etiology and pathogenesis of dental erosion." Quintessence international. quintessence-publishing.com.
Tartaglia, G. M., Tadakamadla, S. K., Connelly, S. T., Sforza, C., & Martín, C. (2019). Adverse events associated with home use of mouthrinses: a systematic review. Therapeutic advances in drug safety. SAGE Journals. journals.sagepub.com.
Jose, A., Butler, A., Payne, D., Maclure, R., Rimmer, P., & Bosma, M. L. (2015). [Study on efficacy of alcohol-free or alcohol-containing mouthrinses]. British dental journal. nature.com.
Brookes, Z., Belfield, L. A., Ashworth, A., Casas-Agustench, P., Raja, M., Pollard, A. J., & Bescos, R. (2021).Effects of chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome. Journal of dentistry. Sciencedirect.com.
Millsop, J. W., Wang, E. A., & Fazel, N. (2017). Etiology, evaluation, and management of xerostomia. Clinics in dermatology. Sciencedirect.com.
Chi, D. L., & Scott, J. M. (2019). [Added sugar and dental caries in children]. Dental clinics of North America. Sciencedirect.com.