What is the best way to take care of your teeth? The most effective way to take care of your teeth is to have a consistent routine. And keeping your routine simple can help you stay consistent.
Here is my optimal four-step oral health routine. (Below I have a minimalist routine to protect your teeth even when you’re busy.)
An Optimal Daily Maintenance Routine for your Teeth
- Many people just “pop” floss between their teeth, which is not effective and can cause sore gums. A better technique is to wrap the floss in a “C” shape around each tooth. Move the floss up and down along the side of the tooth, getting as far under the gums as possible.
- Clean your tongue
- The ultimate cause of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath is bacteria. 75-80% of the bacteria in your mouth are on your tongue. Coffee drinkers especially can get a “yellowing” of their tongue if they do not brush it. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth gently with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove bacteria and protect your teeth.
- Brush and use mouthwash twice daily
- Brush your teeth for two minutes: 30 seconds in each quadrant. Relax your cheeks, lips, and tongue.
- Two commonly missed areas are the insides of your top and bottom front teeth and behind your very back teeth (your molars):
- Hold your brush vertically to clean the inside of your top and bottom front teeth.
- Bite down somewhat to clean your very back teeth. Opening as wide as possible actually prevents the brush from reaching the side and back surfaces of the molars.
- Paying careful attention to these areas will help prevent plaque buildup.
- Use mouthwash
- You can choose antibacterial, fluoride, or xylitol mouthwash (or a combination). You can even use salt water as an effective alternative.
- In the morning and evening, rinse with mouthwash for 60 seconds. Swish vigorously, then spit. Don’t rinse your mouth, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes.
- Eat well
- The less sugar you eat, the healthier your mouth will be. Liquid sugar (soda, sweetened coffee) and candy are more harmful than other sweets because liquid sugar pervades your mouth.
- The less frequently you eat sugar or carbohydrates, the healthier your mouth will be.
- When you do eat sugar, drinking water or brushing after can help protect your teeth.
For Busy People: A Minimal Routine to Protect your Teeth
The four steps above are for optimum daily maintenance. We are all busy people, so there may be days when you don’t have time to follow the entire process above. At a minimum, I recommend the following:
Brush twice daily: Brush once when you wake up and again at the end of the day after your last meal or snack.
In my minimalist routine I also recommend that you floss once daily. Any time of the day is better than never. In my dental practice here in midtown Manhattan, 75% of the fillings I do on adults are due to cavities that develop between their teeth. Flossing helps prevent this type of decay in the spaces where a toothbrush can’t reach.
We eat and drink all day long. Some of what we ingest becomes plaque or hard deposits on our teeth and gums; these contribute to cavities and gum disease. Brushing and flossing carefully before bed will have the greatest impact on your health because it will give you a number of hours of sleep with clean, plaque-free teeth. For the many people who sleep 8 hours, that is a third of your day!
Remember: A consistent oral health routine is highly effective. Keep your routine simple so you can stay consistent!
Dr. Madalyn Davidson
Dr. Madalyn Davidson
30 E. 40th Street
Midtown Manhattan between Bryant Park and Grand Central Station
212 684 6520