Keeping your teeth and gums healthy involves more than just brushing and flossing. You have been told to brush and floss twice a day since you were little, but there are some other simple steps you should check off your list as well.

Take care of your toothbrush

No matter what kind of toothbrush you use, you have to keep it healthy if you want it to keep your teeth healthy. Following brushing, make sure and rinse it well, then store it in an upright position, in the open air. Air that flows around the toothbrush will dry it out more quickly, and keep it dry until you’re ready to use again. Moist toothbrushes tend to grow more microorganisms, so let it breathe! And then buy a new toothbrush every three to four months, and throw the old one out. If the bristles are looking frayed before then, replace it. (But also check with your dentist, because you may be brushing too hard!). And check your child’s toothbrushes often… they may wear out more quickly than adult toothbrushes.

Brush your tongue

There is always bacteria growing in your mouth (ick), and your tongue is where a lot of it thrives. Brush your tongue every time your brush your teeth, and your whole mouth will stay healthier. It will also help to cut down on bad breath, so keep that tongue clean. You may want to find a toothbrush that has a cheek and tongue cleaner to help remove bacteria, but a simple toothbrush works well too.

Trust the pros

Your dentist and hygienist are your best allies in the fight for a healthy mouth. By scheduling (and keeping) regular dental appointments, they can help to monitor any changes happening in your mouth, and develop a dental care plan that meets your individual needs. They are there to help with your oral care, so share any concerns you have about your teeth and gums with them regularly.

Watch what you’re drinking

As yummy as they are, soft drinks are NOT good for your teeth. Sweet, sugary drinks, especially those with carbonation, are often the culprits of tooth decay. That sugar tends to stick to the teeth, promoting bacteria growth and decay. Make the switch to water, milk, or fresh juices instead.

Got fluoride?

Fluoride is important for teeth of all ages, not just for kids. Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, which can help prevent cavities. Most toothpastes contain fluoride, and some mouthwashes and rinses do as well. Talk to your dentist about what fluoride treatments you may benefit from.

We talk a lot about keeping our kids’ teeth healthy, but dental care for adults is crucial as well. You should work closely with your dentist and hygienist to monitor your mouth for signs of gum disease, do regular screenings for oral cancer, and make sure your dental fillings are not in need of repair. Being proactive with your oral care can save you much money, time, and pain in the future!

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