5 Ways to Keep Your Smile in Tip-Top Shape

Follow these smile-saving steps to perfect your dental do-it-yourself routine.

Pick the best brush
Choose a soft or extra soft toothbrush. “A stiff brush can harm gum tissue, remove enamel and abrade the teeth,” Dr. Schuller says. Keep it simple: Manual brushes offer you more control than electric varieties, says Dr. Pearson, who likes Colgate 360 and Oral-B Cross Action. Replace your brush every three months.

Select a main squeeze
No gobs necessary. Use a quarter of a teaspoon at most, Dr. Pearson advises. Pastes with fluoride are better if you’re cavity-prone; whitening formulas may worsen sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Brush off
The key is to apply gentle pressure for three to five minutes, Dr. Pearson says. Place the toothbrush on the gums, at the top of the gum line; using a large circular motion, slowly work your way down to the teeth, then re-position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brush in a circular motion down to the end of the tooth. Hold the brush perpendicular to your front teeth and brush the back side.

Swish and spit
Rinse away brushing by-products with plain old H2O, but for an added benefit, follow up with a gargle of mouthwash; it contains fluoride, which you want coating the teeth in order to strengthen the enamel, Dr. Schuller suggests. Avoid rinses that contain alcohol, which can upset the natural balance of bacteria in your mouth.

Get into a routine
Twice a day is fine, but ideally, you should brush after every meal, Dr. Schuller says. See your dentist for a cleaning every six months. If he has ID’d issues like gum inflammation, see him four times a year. Tell him if you’re on meds (antihistamines and antidepressants, for example, up your chances of tooth decay). Smile BIG!

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