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5 Steps to Healthy Teeth - Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene leads to bright smile

Taking good care of your teeth gives you a nice smile, but it also can keep you in good health. Poor oral hygiene is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications. And tooth loss can make it hard to eat a healthy diet, leading to even more health trouble from poor oral hygiene.

Maintain a healthy set of teeth in just 5 easy oral hygiene steps:

  1. Brush. Twice a day, use a soft bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Wait 30-45 minutes after you eat or drink, so the acids in your mouth drop to normal levels. Brush after breakfast, and again before bed – after you’re done eating and drinking for the day. 
  2. Floss. Once a day, use dental floss to clean the tight spaces between your teeth. Floss before you brush – that way the fluoride in your toothpaste can coat more of the surface of each tooth. Choose a time of day when you aren’t rushed, so you can take your time and clean each tooth carefully. 
  3. Rinse. Talk with your dentist about what kind of mouthwash you should use, and how often. Some kill bacteria, some contain fluoride, and some do both. After you use mouthwash, don’t eat, drink, or rinse your mouth for 30 minutes.
  4. Chew gum. After you eat, pop in a piece of sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol kills the bacteria that cause cavities, and gum in general makes more saliva in your mouth, which helps to bring down acid levels. Chew gum for about 20 minutes after you eat. 
  5. Rinse again. If you’re out and don’t have gum or a toothbrush, rinse your mouth with water to loosen food particles from between your teeth, and reduce the acids in your mouth.

[Learn more about Dental Care in our Health Encyclopedia.]


  • Sensitive mouth? Try a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles. If you take your time brushing, an extra-soft brush can get your teeth as clean as any other. 
  • Tight teeth? Try a different kind of floss. A waxed floss or dental tape can get into tight spaces – and if your teeth are close together, flossing is even more important! 
  • Bad breath? See your dentist. You might need a check-up and cleaning. [Read more about Bad Breath.]

With a toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, and gum in your tooth care tool kit, you’re ready for a lifetime of good health, good oral hygiene and great smiles!

Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist Health's dentistry services.

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Last Updated: 10-01-2016
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