Woman brushing her teeth

What are the very best ways to care for your teeth? Here are our Top 5 – counting down from 5 to 1.

 

5. Watch What You Eat

Certain foods and beverages can actually help you keep teeth and gums healthy, like carrots, apples, and other crunchy, high water content fruits and veggies, as well as water itself. But other foods and drinks are damaging and should be avoided, or at least limited. That includes anything high in sugar as well as hard or sticky things like ice cubes or caramels that can crack teeth. Finally, reduce or eliminate juices and sodas, as their high acid content can erode enamel over time.

 

4. Stop Smoking

Smoking tobacco products can have a number of unwanted consequences when it comes to oral health. Not only does it cause characteristic bad breath, it can also lead to discoloration, tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. Smoking is also linked to higher levels of various types of oral cancers. If you’re still smoking, now’s the time to quit.  

 

3. Floss Once a Day – Correctly

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they never floss. Yikes! Fortunately, another 1 in 3 say they floss every day. (The others are somewhere in between.) Flossing regularly is one of the best ways to care for your teeth because it removes plaque and food particles stuck between the teeth that lead to decay. It’s also great for gum health. Just make sure you’re using enough floss – the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends 18 inches – or else you risk spreading bacteria across your mouth from the same short, overused section of floss.

Got braces? Don’t let that stop you. Use a floss threader to get in between the wire, or try an alternative like a water flosser or air flosser.   

 

2. Brush Twice a Day – Correctly

You may be brushing your teeth twice a day, as the ADA recommends, but are you sure you’re doing it right? Optimizing your tooth brushing skills is one of the best ways to care for your teeth. First, time yourself to make sure you’re brushing the full two minutes each time as recommended by the ADA, as brushing for two minutes removes significantly more plaque than brushing for one minute. Next, make sure your toothbrush is up to the task; you should ditch your old brush if it’s frayed and plan on getting a new, soft-bristled brush three or four times a year. Finally, work on your technique. Look at videos online or ask your hygienist at your next appointment about the proper way to clean teeth thoroughly.

 

1. See Your Dentist Regularly

Coming in at #1, the single best way to care for your teeth is to go to the dentist for check-ups.

Discuss with your dentist how often you should plan to see them and get those visits on the calendar. (The ADA doesn’t recommend a set number of visits per year, as each person’s circumstances and needs are different.) Plan on seeing the hygienist once or twice a year for a deep cleaning, too. By regularly seeing your dentist, you’re taking a proactive approach to your oral health and can prevent small problems from becoming big problems.