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Modern dental hygiene goes beyond brushing twice a day
Yep, we said it and we’ll say it again: Ditch your toothbrush! At least ditch it every three to four months, that is, says the American Dental Association’s recommendation for toothbrush replacement. And beyond brushing the old-fashioned way, we have six tricks, tips, and technological innovations that could keep your teeth even healthier.
1. Let the Brush Do the Work
You have the latest HDTV, but perhaps haven’t considered going high-tech with your toothbrush. “Some people brush too hard. Some people don’t brush enough,” says dentist Ruchi Nijjar Sahota, DDS, in Fremont, California. And neither are good. She says brushing too hard can actually scrub away tooth enamel. “Electronic toothbrushes can make it easier for everyone to brush in the right way, but you’ve gotta allow the toothbrush to do it’s thing,” she explains. “The electronic toothbrush moves on its own, so you should try to be gentle with it to allow the bristles to work.” She recommends just a gentle side-to-side motion across your teeth without applying any pressure. Your dentist will be able to tell you if, control freak, you’re trying to do too much yourself.
2. Make Flossing Effortless
If flossing your teeth is one of those shoulda-wouldas that have never become routine, maybe you need some help. Flossing aids like Dentek Triple Clean Floss Picks can make the process a lot easier for some people. “It’s difficult to get to the back of you mouth sometimes,” Dr. Sahota says. She says to floss correctly, make sure you’re getting between the teeth gently, making a c-shape around each tooth, and reaching the backs of the last teeth.
3. Brush After Snacks
Saliva production is stimulated by chewing, so during a meal, your mouth produces enough saliva to flush sugar and the bacteria that feeds on it off your teeth. But with a snack, the sugar just sits on your teeth for about 20 minutes waiting for bacteria to come get it and create the acid that causes tooth decay. “If you snack a lot between meals, that bacteria sticks to your teeth and has more time to do damage because it’s just sitting there,” says Dr. Sahota. So, do your teeth a favor and brush away that bacteria.
4. Chew Gum
Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which flushes food and bacteria from the surface of the teeth. And research shows the right kind of gum could be even better for your teeth. You want to go with sugarless for obvious reasons. And look especially for xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute in candy and gum. This sweetener doesn’t attract bacteria like sugar, but actually fights it. Good ole Trident should do the trick.
5. Take a Toothbrush to Go
Let’s get real, most of us don’t have time to brush after each meal. That’s why twice a day became the standard recommendation. But with new on-the-go-friendly toothbrushes like the Colgate Wisp, freshening up before that post-lunch meeting is easy. The lip gloss-size brush comes loaded with a dab of breath freshener and a soft pick on one end for unsticking stubborn food particles. And it doesn’t even require water.
6. Drink Up
If you do just one thing, drink more water. “Drinking as much water as possible allows you to flush bacteria and food out of your mouth,” Dr. Sahota says. “Water has a pH of 7, so it helps neutralize the environment in your mouth as well.” Since it’s the acid that the sugar-eating bacteria create that causes cavities in the first place, the simplest thing you can do for your dental health is drink more H2O.