5 Healthy-Mouth Habits that You can Totally Do

Mother and Daughter Prepare to Floss at Home

If you've been inconsistent with oral care over the years and are now interested in amping up your routine, we have great news: You can totally do it! To get there, first focus on establishing that new habit — once that's accomplished, people tend to automatically perform tasks based on contextual cues. Identify realistic goals, try to do them every day at the same time for 10 weeks, and track your success. No matter what your oral care habits have been like in the past, it's never too late to start fresh with these five simple healthy-mouth habits.

1. Brush First Thing

BEFORE BREAKFAST

Get in the habit brushing your teeth as soon as you wake up. Not only is it pleasant to have a fresh mouth as you greet the day, brushing right away cleans any bacteria that's formed overnight, preventing your breakfast (and coffee) from getting mired in the sticky plaque.

TIP: To freshen up after breakfast, rinse with mouthwash. In a pinch, rinse with water — the goal is simply to wash away leftover food particles.

2. Set a Timer

2 MINUTES

Lots of people brush regularly, but they don't brush long enough to effectively remove plaque. Every time you brush, set a timer for 2 minutes to make sure you're brushing for the entire recommended time slot.

TIP: Make brushing something to look forward to by listening to a song, watching the news, catching up on a podcast.

3. Scrape Your Tongue

TWICE PER DAY

After brushing, reach for a tongue scraper. Gently scraping your tongue to remove plaque can help get rid of bacteria that could otherwise end up on your teeth. Flossing every evening will help you get ahead of the bacteria game, as well.

TIP: Tongue scraping can help keep bad breath at bay, as can flossing.

4. Avoid Soda

USE A STRAW

If you must drink sugary drinks such as soda, try using a straw to keep the beverage away from your teeth. It's best to cut out sugary drinks entirely because consuming sweet beverages is linked with health issues ranging from tooth decay to increased mortality.

TIP: Make it easy to reach for a straw by keeping a reusable metal straws in your utensil drawer, in your car, and at the office.

5. Crunch Those Veggies

FIND A FAVORITE

The USDA's dietary guidelines suggest that adults eat 5 to 13 servings of fruit and veggies a day as part of a balanced diet. And opting for crunchy veggies regularly can help keep your mouth healthy. Chewing stimulates production of saliva, which acts as a natural mouthwash.

TIP: Pick a favorite raw veggie such as carrot sticks and keep it in your regular snack rotation.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.

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