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General Dentistry Tips: Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

A family in the bathroom brushing their teeth

Dental hygiene involves more than visiting the dentist twice a year. When you practice good dental hygiene all year round, you’ll prevent issues and strengthen your teeth. Follow these general dentistry tips and teach them to the rest of your household so everyone keeps their teeth clean.

How to Brush Your Teeth

If you don’t brush properly, you could still get cavities even if you brush your teeth twice a day. Here’s the right way to brush your teeth:

  1. Tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle so you reach your gums as you brush your teeth.
  2. Start with your back teeth and brush the outside of your teeth until you make it to the front.
  3. Repeat this process while brushing the inside of your teeth.
  4. Brush the biting surface of your teeth, starting at the back and moving to the front.

As you brush your teeth, use circular strokes on every tooth. Make sure you reach the back teeth. Afterward, spit out the toothpaste without rinsing your mouth with water. Rinsing your mouthwashes away the toothpaste, reducing its effectiveness.

Finally, brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper. Brushing your tongue reduces the bacteria in your mouth, eliminating bad breath. Note that tongue scrapers eliminate bacteria more thoroughly than toothbrushes.

How to brush your teeth


Brush Twice a Day

Brush your teeth at least twice a day to scrub off bacteria, sugar, food particles, drink residue, and sticky substances that cling to your teeth. Additionally, floss your teeth at least once a day to eliminate particles trapped between your teeth. Keeping your teeth clean reduces the risk of cavities, receding gums, tooth decay, root exposure, and tooth loss that lead to complicated dental procedures.

Additionally, visit your dental office twice a year for regular cleanings. Rinaldi Dental Arts cleanings whiten your teeth, remove plaque build-up, freshen your breath and prevent cavities and tooth decay before they start.

Eat Healthy Foods

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt have calcium and protein that build strong teeth. They also increase saliva production, which washes away food particles and sticky substances. Similarly, drinking plenty of water cleans your teeth, eliminates particles, and encourages saliva production. Instead of sipping coffee or soda, bring a water bottle to work instead.

Raw vegetables like carrots and celery are hard enough to scrape away bacteria without damaging your teeth. Add leafy greens like spinach and kale to your diet to get the vitamins and minerals that you need to strengthen your teeth. Nuts like almonds offer additional calcium and protein.

Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks

When you eat food that contains sugar, bacteria in your mouth interact with the sugar to produce acid. This acid causes plaque build-up, which leads to cavities, enamel loss, and tooth decay. Likewise, sticky foods like syrup and caramel coat your teeth, allowing the bacteria to produce more acid.

You probably know to avoid sweets and sugary drinks, but a surprising number of food and drinks contain sugar. This includes granola, cereal, hot sauce, and canned food. Check the labels to see how much sugar your favorite foods contain. If possible, look for healthier alternatives and brush your teeth after you eat.

Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

Drinking alcohol dehydrates you, which causes dry mouth. Decreased saliva production means that particles attach to your teeth, causing plaque buildup and tooth decay. Additionally, red wine contains tannins that stain your teeth. If you drink red wine, drink plenty of water to wash away the stains and stay hydrated.

Smoking and chewing tobacco cause infections and receding gums, exposing the roots of your teeth. You’ll experience tooth decay and increased sensitivity that makes it harder to eat. Over time, you lose teeth and increase your risk of developing oral cancer. If you use tobacco, talk to Rinaldi Dental Arts about stopping or reducing your habit.

Use the Right Toothbrush

If you prefer a traditional brush, look for one with soft bristles. Contrary to popular belief, hard bristles don’t scrape away more plaque—in fact, they can damage your gums and wear away enamel. Soft bristles are strong enough to eliminate plaque and food particles without scraping your teeth.

Additionally, look for a toothbrush with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal. The seal indicates that third-party experts have reviewed the toothbrush and determined that it means the strictest quality regulations. Replace the brush every few months because bristles break, fray, and wear down over time.

If you forget to brush your teeth for the right length of time or have trouble controlling the intensity, an electric toothbrush scrubs your teeth without wearing away the enamel. Some electric toothbrushes have timers that go off when two minutes have passed.

Use the Right Mouthwash

Each mouthwash serves a different purpose, so ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. Some mouthwashes have special ingredients for teeth whitening, cavity prevention, fighting bad breath, and preventing gum disease. In general, look for a mouthwash with fluoride, which strengthens enamel and prevents tooth decay.

On another note, don’t assume that harsh mouthwashes kill more bacteria. Mouthwashes with harsh ingredients like alcohol can stain your teeth, decrease saliva production and even affect your sense of taste. Dry mouth causes cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, defeating the purpose of using mouthwash in the first place.

Don’t Chew on Ice or Plastic

While ice melts in your mouth and doesn’t contain sugar, chewing ice is nearly as bad as eating sugary foods. The hard surface wears away enamel, making your teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods. Ice can also fracture enamel, damage your gums and break your teeth.

Likewise, chewing on plastic wears away the enamel and damages your teeth. If you chew on hard plastic, you could damage your jaw muscles or break crowns and fillings. Avoid chewing on pens or bottle caps and ripping open plastic packaging with your teeth. If you need to chew on something, try healthy snacks like raw carrots.

Schedule an Appointment at Our Dental Office

Rinaldi Dental Arts offers general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry services to keep your teeth healthy and look their best. Some of our services include cleanings, X-rays, crowns, fillings, root canals, and tooth extractions. Other services include gum disease prevention and treatment, TMJ/TMD therapy, and sleep apnea treatment. For full restorations, Rinaldi Dental Arts installs bridges and implants that provide a mouth full of healthy teeth again. Cosmetic dentistry services include veneers, teeth whitening, gum bleaching, and gum grafting.

Rinaldi Dental Arts accepts new and returning patients. Call us or request an appointment online.

A family in the bathroom brushing their teeth