Get Your Smile on Schedule

Time out! To keep your teeth on the right track, it’s important to stick to a smile-care schedule. Check your routine against the recommendations below to find out how to start and keep a healthy teeth timetable. Brush Frequency: Two to three times a day, for 2-3 minutes at a time. After meals and before bed is most beneficial. How: Use a soft-bristled brush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Brush in soft circles, focusing on each side of each tooth, as well as the gums and tongue. It may help to switch hands frequently, as people tend to unintentionally brush for longer on the side opposite their dominant hand. Why: Brushing removes food particles and sugars left behind by foods and drinks. It’s the easiest and most important way to keep bacteria levels low, and prevent decay. Reminder: Morning breath is a built in reminder to brush away nighttime buildup. Brushing before bed can be trickier. Try leaving a note on the bathroom mirror, your favorite book or the alarm clock wherever you’re likely to see it just before bed. Floss Frequency: Once a day. How: Take around 18 inches of floss and wind several inches around the tip of each index finger. Use a back and forth motion to gently glide floss between teeth and below the gum line, hugging the side of each tooth. Use a floss threader to feed floss through braces and retainers. Why: What brushing does for teeth, flossing does for gums. Brush bristles cannot reach the deep crevices between teeth, but floss is able to grab hidden particles before they become plaque. Reminder: Like brushing, building a habit is key. In the morning or before bed is usually most practical, so choose the time you’re less rushed. Storing floss next to your toothpaste or sitting out on the counter can also help. Replace toothbrush Frequency: Every three to four months, or after illness or when bristles begin to fray. How: Choose a brush with soft bristles. Many styles also offer tongue scrapers, which can reduce bad breath. For children, be sure to pick a child-sized brush with a small head specifically made for tiny teeth and mouths. Why: Toothbrush bristles wear out and become less effective. Children’s brushes may wear out more rapidly, so check for fray often. Reminder: Write an expiration date in permanent marker on the toothbrush handle. If your dentist gives you a toothbrush at each visit, try and replace it once between visits and you’ll only have to remember half as often. Dental visit Frequency: Every six months. How: Contact your benefits carrier to find a dentist in your area. If you avoid visiting the dentist because of dental anxiety or a past bad experience, it may help to check out our article Tame Your Fear of the Dentist. Why: Regular dental visits help ensure good oral health. Dentists can monitor your at-home care and notify you of problem areas before they lead to decay. Dental visits can also help detect oral cancers and medical conditions like diabetes and acid reflux. Reminder: Schedule a follow-up at the end of each visit, and ask your dental office if they offer telephone or email reminders. Set the appointment, and a reminder, in your phone or computer calendar too.


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