Do you brush your teeth on autopilot? Or do you wait until a problem strikes before seeking help from a dentist? Sounds familiar, right?
If you want to skip the lecture from the hygienist (yes, we know we should be flossing after every meal. No, we don’t do it because… life), we’ve got a bunch of easy tweaks to keep your smile beaming. Cue our guide for healthy teeth.
How to brush like a pro
Here are the brushing basics: brush your teeth for at least two minutes and twice a day (morning before breakfast and night before bed). To go beyond the basics and level up your everyday routine, we sat in the dentist’s chair to bring you the simplest (and most effective!) three-step routine for keeping you and your gnashers happy.
Step 1: Pre-clean
Before you even think about squeezing toothpaste onto your trusty brush:
- Start with a pre-clean.
- Gargle an alcohol-free mouthwash to freshen your breath and remove any debris.
- Go in with a bit of floss or dental tape to remove any plaque or food.
Dentist Dr Luke Staves told us: “Pre cleaning with mouthwash, floss and interdental brushes means that toothpaste can penetrate further between the teeth, preventing hidden cavities you may not be aware of.”
Step 2: Brush the right way
Forget brushing harder to get the results you want; this will not work! You could be doing more harm than good if you overbrush. Whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush, always brush in small circular motions along the teeth and gums to remove any remaining plaque and bacteria on the teeth. Don’t forget to give your tongue a gentle brush; it will freshen up your breath and get rid of pesky plaque buildup.
Step 3: Don’t rinse straight after
Put down the mouthwash! It’s tempting to rinse away your toothpaste to wrap up your brushing session, but it’s better to wait at least 20 minutes before rinsing with water or mouthwash.
It might feel counterintuitive at first, but Dr Staves says: “This allows the toothpaste to stay on the teeth long enough for the active ingredients to do their job in strengthening the teeth and reducing bacteria in the mouth until your next clean.”
Best tools for healthy teeth
Upgrade your dental routine by arming yourself with the hardest working tools. Swapping your manual toothbrush for an electric toothbrush is a great place to start. Not only will you get more brush strokes per minute (by hand, it’s estimated we can do 400 brush strokes per minute, with an electric toothbrush, it shoots up to 30,000 brush strokes per minute!), an electric toothbrush has greater reach and is often gentler on teeth and gums.
Always check the labels on your toothpaste and make sure you’re using fluoride toothpaste. It’s easy to get distracted by bold marketing claims (whiter, brighter, bubblegum flavours etc.), but fluoride is the powerful ingredient you need in your everyday routine. It defends against tooth decay by battling bacteria and creates a protective barrier on your teeth too.
Find flossing too fiddly? Try switching to a water flosser, which uses a burst of water to get to those hard-to-reach spots.
Top tips for taking care of your teeth
– Follow our step-by-step guide morning and night to help maintain healthy teeth and gums and prevent future problems.
– Be more mindful when it comes to sugary and acidic food and drink. The sugar can wreak havoc on your enamel. Sipping high-sugar drinks out of straws can help reduce contact, and do not brush your teeth straight after, as that can spread the damage-causing acid further.
– Always stay hydrated throughout the day. A dry mouth can create more bacteria.
– If flossing on the go isn’t for you, pack a travel-sized mouthwash for speedy spruce-ups in between meals.