It is important to take care of your teeth and gums in order to stay healthy throughout your life. Healthy teeth and gums can also mean less risk for tooth decay and gum disease. There are five basic steps to caring for teeth and gums: brushing, flossing, eating right, visiting the dentist, and rinsing.

Tips for Brushing Teeth

It is recommended to brush at least twice a day. But as much as possible, you can brush your teeth after every meal. After eating, wait for 30 minutes. In this way, any enamel that softened from acid during eating will re-harden and will not get brushed away. When brushing, you are removing a plaque (a film of bacteria that clings to the teeth). Once bacteria in plaque will come into contact with food, they will produce acids and these acids will lead to cavities.

To brush, place a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the head of the toothbrush. Then, start with outer and inner surfaces. Brush at a 45-degree angle in short, half-tooth-wide strokes against the gum line. Be sure to reach your back teeth. Now, move on to the chewing surfaces and hold the brush flat. Brush back and forth along these surfaces. When brushing inside the surfaces of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use gentle up-and-down strokes with the tip of brush. Also, brush your tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion. This will remove the food particles and odor-causing bacteria to freshen your breath.

Tips for Flossing Your Teeth

Flossing helps you get rid of food and plaque between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. When this plaque stays between teeth, it will harden into tartar, and may require a dentist or hygienist to remove it. It is recommended that you floss your teeth once a day.

To floss, get an 18-inch strip of floss from the dispenser. Wind the floss around the middle fingers of each hand. This will leave a 1-inch section open for flossing. Start with the top teeth first and then the bottom. Place the floss in your mouth and use your index fingers to push the floss between the teeth. Try to move the floss up and down against the tooth and up and around the gum line. This should form a C-shape around the tooth as you floss.

Eating Right for Dental Health

Eating a variety of foods is one way to maintain good dental health. However, minimize those foods that contain sugars and starches as they produce the most acids in the mouth. The longer they stay in the mouth, the more they can damage the teeth. An example of this is hard ‘sucking candies.’ Usually, taking sugary foods for snacks can lead to tooth decay, because most people don’t brush after snacks. Also, starchy snack foods like potato chips, because they stick to the teeth.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

In order to maintain healthy teeth and gums, it is recommended that you visit a dentist at least once every six months. Also see a dentist if you have pain in your teeth or mouth or bleeding, swollen gums.