Oral hygiene isn’t the most glamorous topic. Still, it’s important so let make sure you get it right.
Yes most people assume they already know enough when it comes to taking care of their teeth. But there’s a lot of people out there who thinkthey know and really don’t.
Mindlessly brushing your teeth, going through the motions, only flossing when you “feel like it” — this is a recipe for disaster.
Do you really want to be dealing with problems like periodontal disease, cavities, and teeth extractions in the future because you thought the job you were doing today was “good enough”? If you want to look your best and you’re missing teeth because you were too lazy to properly look after them isn’t that just counterproductive?
Taking the time to develop a better smile is an easy way of seeing quick improvements to your appearance and it’s one of the few areas which you have direct control over.
You can’t change your bone structure or height but you can straighten, whiten, and maintain your teeth so they stay looking great for years to come. Learn how to take care of them today and they’ll take care of you tomorrow.
Now, let’s take a look at each individual part of your dental routine.
Step 1: Flossing
Hopefully you’re not one of those people who think they don’t have to floss their teeth since they brush “thoroughly.” Fact is, the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach the inner crevices of your teeth including the areas deep within your gum line.
If you don’t believe us get a string of dental floss, and use it in between your two back molars. If you smell something terrible that’s the bacteria that has made itself at home in your mouth.
In order to keep your teeth looking great you absolutely need to floss. While it may not improve your outward appearance immediately, you ensure your teeth don’t decay, fall out, or develop gum disease from neglect on your part.
Think of flossing as maintenance. If you refuse to do it, it can only get worse.
Anyways enough about why you should floss. Most people who do floss don’t even do it properly. While flossing, you need to get the thread up the sides of your teeth as far as you can into the gums.
If you’ve never flossed before or if you do it infrequently don’t be surprised if you begin bleeding or feel gum pain. Take this as a sign that you need more flossing in your life. You should really work to scrape any plaque off and not just mindlessly stick the thread in between your teeth. Roll the thread around your two index fingers and get to work.
We recommend flossing right before you brush since it works more effectively when your mouth and teeth are dry. At night before you go to bed or after your last meal for the day are ideal times. The most important thing is that you do it at least ONCE a day.
Alternative to Flossing: Water Picks
Water picks work by shooting a stream of water that will remove the plague in between your teeth. Although they can be useful for people who wear braces, retainers or have other problems with getting floss in between their teeth, we don’t recommend water picks to anyone who doesn’t have trouble flossing the “normal” way.
Most people will be perfectly fine never having used a water pick in their life. Overall they’re pretty low on the priority list.
Step 2: Brushing
Brushing is another area most people think they’re doing alright in but are actually failing miserably. While brushing your teeth, you need to get every surface of the tooth touched. Not just the front but also the top or bottom and behind it. Careless brushing, like flossing, isn’t enough.
That being said, it’s not only your teeth that need a scrubbing. You can also gently touch up your gums, the roof of your mouth, and your tongue (if you’re not using a tongue scraper). Make sure you don’t apply too much force while brushing your gums or you’ll erode them and end up doing more harm than good.
If you’re using a manual toothbrush, you need to move the brush in a circular motion and angle it so the bristles get in between the gum line.
If you’re using an electric toothbrush, hold it over the surfaces of each tooth for about 4-6 seconds before moving on to the next.
Also make sure you target the molars well and if you can get behind them, brush there too. Remember, brushing is an active process and not something you shut off your brain while doing.
Want Whiter Teeth?
We recommend using the Arm and Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste because it uses refined dental grade baking soda which works extremely well at whitening teeth while at the same time avoiding the abrasiveness of regular baking soda.
Truth be told, we haven’t found a toothpaste better at whitening teeth than this one.
Have Sensitive Teeth?
If you have sensitive teeth and/or gums then you’ll want to use a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate (or calcium based ingredients).
Colagate’s Complete Prevention Toothpaste is a decent choice, with a 5% potassium nitrate concentration for anti-sensitivity. Some people respond better to calcium based ingredients other’s to potassium so it’d be a good idea to try both kinds before settling on one. Sensodyne would be another brand to try if you haven’t already.
But here’s where most people go wrong with these toothpastes:
If you are using a toothpaste for sensitivity you should not be rinsing immediately afterwards. In fact you’ll want to wait up to 30 minutes before rinsing by just letting the toothpaste sit over your teeth.
Potassium nitrate (the active ingredient in most sensitive teeth toothpastes) needs time to work the surfaces of your teeth and washing it away with water reduces its effectiveness if you don’t give it time. Yes not everyone has a spare 30 minutes in their morning but if you can brush as soon as you wake up and rinse just before you leave you’ll be doing your teeth a huge favor.
Concerned About Fluoride?
Regarding the whole issue with fluoride in toothpaste – we say use whatever you’re comfortable with.
Some people believe fluoride is harmful to their health, some people just don’t care, and still others swear by it for healthy teeth. There’s evidence that sodium fluoride can improve dental health but on the other hand too much fluoride does actually stain teeth through a condition called fluorosis.
The toothpastes we recommended above all contain sodium fluoride as an active ingredient as do the majority of toothpastes. If you’re concerned with potential health issues then simply use one that doesn’t contain fluoride. You still have plenty of options here.
Try Xyliwhite by NOW Foods which uses an ingredient called Xylitol instead of sodium fluoride. Xylitol has proved itself in studies as a worthy alternative to fluoride for cavity protection and killing germs (more on Xylitol further below).
Step 3: Mouthwash
The most important thing to look for when choosing a mouthwash is to make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol.
Not because these types of mouthwashes don’t work — they do — but not as effectively as those which don’t mostly because alcohol ingredients are excessively drying which is a big problem. You need your mouth to be producing saliva to keep itself moist which discourages germs and bacteria from making themselves at home in there. That’s a big reason why people get morning breath.
Less saliva = more odor causing germs and alcohol in mouthwash isn’t helping.
We recommend using Crest 3D White Brilliance Mouthwash because it contains no alcohol or hydrogen peroxide yet still helps with removing stains.
Many mouthwashes claim you can get a whiter smile in “as little as 7 days”. While they do make a difference, if you’re mostly interested in whiter teeth we recommend looking up the methods we talk about in our teeth whitening guide for better results.
Mouthwashes should primarily be used to kill odor causing bacteria and germs in your mouth. Any whitening you can get from them is just a plus. Which reminds us…
Getting Rid of Bad Breath
The majority of bad breath is caused by germs that reside at the back of your tongue near your tonsils. An easy way to check if you have bad breath or not is to lick your wrist and then wait about a minute to let your saliva dry before giving it a smell test. Probably not a good idea to do this in public.
You can also take a spoon and try scraping your tongue as far back as you can which will catch some of the scent. Tongue scrapers are made specifically to clean bacteria off your tongue. If you struggle with halitosis (chronic bad breath) you might find that using a tongue scraper each morning helps alleviate the problem over time.
How Foods & Drinks Affect Your Teeth
As you’ve probably heard from your dentist when you were a kid, soda and sugary foods are bad for you. Not just for your teeth but your health too. Yes you already know that. We’re reminding you because if you’re dedicated to reaching your potential looks-wise, priority number one should be getting your diet in check.
If you’re anything like the average American who drinks nearly 45 gallons of soda a year, step number one should be eliminating all soda from your diet.
In the context of this guide, soda and other sugary drinks erode your enamel and stain your teeth an ugly yellow. Not only will your teeth thank you for quitting but your body will too once you start shedding the extra pounds you’ve probably been carrying around.
Also, and this is big, if you’ve just eaten something acidic (such as an orange) wait at LEAST 30 minutes before you brush your teeth. Citric acid weakens your enamel and if you brush right after you’re damaging it while it’s still recovering. What you can do right after is rinse out with water to help prevent staining. This is also useful after you’ve finished drinking wine, coffee, or anything else that stains your teeth.
Eating certain foods that are crunchy or crispy such as celery, carrots, or apples can also help clean the surfaces of your teeth while you’re eating them thanks to their abrasive skin. If you’re out and about try one these foods to help keep your teeth clean. Just please don’t substitute an apple for toothpaste, okay?
Xylitol gum uses a sugar that can’t be digested or used by the plaque and bacteria found within your mouth. There are studies which show that xylitol reduces the incidence of both tooth decay and cavities compared to regular sucrose gum as well as inhibiting the growth of strep bacteria. The sweet taste your tongue detects while chewing xylitol causes your mouth to produce saliva. This acts as a natural pH buffer against the acidic environment favored by plaque.
If you’re a big gum chewer, xylitol is worth looking into for oral hygiene purposes. Especially if you’ve had problems with cavities or tooth decay in the past. We wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary to make it a part of your routine but it can be a helpful tool.
Quick Recap of Your Dental Routine
- (Optional) Whitening — After waiting at least an hour after you brushed.
Do Steps 1-3 twice a day. Whitening is optional (but highly recommended).
Please. Devote just ten minutes a day. Five in the morning and five before bed is all you need to properly care for your teeth. We don’t want to hear any excuses (and neither do the people around you).
Remember to check out our teeth whitening guide if you’re interested in really taking your smile to the next level and start looking like a Hollywood celebrity.