It’s almost 2019 and this is the year that you’re going to get in the best health – oral health, that is. You want to have clean teeth and gums since you know that gingivitis and gum disease can open the door to possible other health problems like diabetes or arthritis. So, it’s time to get a pad and write down your New Year’s resolutions for tooth care.

The first thing you need to do is examine your toothbrush and be prepared to ditch it if it’s not the proper type. If you want to use a manual brush, make sure that the bristles are soft. Hard bristles are rough on both the teeth and gums and can cause irritation and bleeding, as well as wearing down enamel on the tooth. Soft bristles are easier on the teeth while still getting the job done.

Consider using an electric toothbrush. The spinning bristles can remove food particles from your teeth while all you have to do is move the head of the brush from tooth to tooth. It’s easier to be lazy with the manual toothbrush and miss spots. The electric brush can get into areas that manual brushers tend to miss. Resolve to spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth each time – twice a day. Why two minutes? That’s 30 seconds in each of the four quadrants of your mouth… and provided that you’re using the correct motion, that’s more than enough time.

After you’ve brushed, the next step is flossing. Be gentle with your flossing – don’t pretend that your gums are logs and the floss is a saw. You don’t want to cut your gums in half, but you want to get rid of any food particles that might have escaped your toothbrush and also get rid of any early plaque buildup. You want the floss to look like a ‘C’ as it wraps around the tooth.

After you’ve done all that, finally end it with a mouthwash that will kill any remaining germs in your mouth and then leave the bathroom satisfied that you did a great job of improving your oral health.  

The most important thing that you can do is stick with these resolutions as the months go by. It’s far too easy to not budget in enough time in the morning before work or school and then also be so exhausted at the end of the day that the full routine gets neglected. It also depends on how many people share a given bathroom at a time – trying to brush while a sibling or spouse is banging on the door can make for hurried hygiene. Think about what times are usually best for you to get in a full two minutes of brushing and then careful flossing and adhere to that routine while making allowances for the occasional events that inevitable throw that careful planning right out the window.

Dr. Robert Trager has had many years experience guiding people to have the best tooth brushing and flossing routine possible.