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Bethany, RDH 

Collin College, AAS in Dental Hygiene

Ever since you can remember, you’ve known to brush your teeth at least twice a day. You may even be a frequent flosser, but did you know there’s more to dental hygiene than the brush & floss approach? Remember the following tips to ensure a healthy smile. 

1. Oral health is about more than beautiful teeth. When considering the health of your mouth, it’s important to be aware that pregnancy, hormone shifts, medication regimens, chronic conditions and eating habits may lead to changes in the state of your gums and your teeth. If you’ve noticed new inflammation, gum recession, mouth lesions or enamel problems, discuss the symptoms and any recent health or habit changes with your physician. 

2. How (and how long) you brush does make a difference. Proper brushing is more than a quick swish. It takes 90 to 120 seconds to clean all of your tooth surfaces. Remember to use short strokes, and avoid applying too much pressure. Give special care to braced teeth, fillings, crowns and gumline areas—and don’t forget to brush your tongue.  

3. Make sure you’re getting enough fluoride. Fluoride strengthens erupting teeth in young children. It also bolsters enamel and prevents tooth decay in adults and children. While your over the counter toothpaste and mouthwash may contain plenty of fluoride, your dentist can determine whether you require a stronger, prescription concentration to safeguard your teeth. 

4. Avoid sugars. It’s no secret that food particles stick around after you’ve eaten. When you eat sugary, starchy foods, they stay on your teeth even longer. Bacteria enjoy this sugary substance, and bacteria produce acid that breaks down enamel and encourages cavities. Try chewing sugarless gum or mints to get your sugar fix, instead. 

5. Avoid diet cola products. A LiveScience article likened diet soda ingredients to “battery acid for your teeth.” While an occasional diet drink isn’t a problem, prolonged soft drink exposure causes enamel deterioration, especially if you’re not brushing after every beverage. 

In addition to the recommendations above, stress management and a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also protect your smile and your overall health for years to come. 

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