There are no bones about it: almost all of us will deal with dental problems at some point. In fact, 92% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth.

Still, the better you care for your teeth, the less frequent and less severe your dental decay could be. So many people say, “I brush twice per day, so how did I get a cavity?” Chances are that you’re breaking one or more oral health rules, making your dental care less effective.

To step up your game and keep your teeth healthy, follow these home dental care tips:

Home Dental Care Tips You Might Be Missing

If you want your future dentist appointments to be smoother affairs, use these oral care tips:

1. Adjust Your Oral Care Schedule

It’s no secret that you’re supposed to brush your teeth twice per day. However, most people brush once in the morning and once before going to bed. As it turns out, that’s not the most effective schedule.

It’s ideal to brush your teeth about 30 minutes to an hour after each meal. It’s also a good idea to brush after you’ve eaten something sugary. Remember that healthy sugars like fruit can still hurt your teeth.

When it comes to flossing, once per day is all you need. It’s best to floss after the last time you eat each day. This lets you clear out any plaque and debris to avoid the several hours of decay that can happen while you sleep.

2. Choose Your Tools Wisely

Part of the reason your dental care might not be as effective as you expect is due to the tools you’re using. As far as a toothbrush, an electric toothbrush is ideal. These brushes use the correct strokes for you (more on that later).

There are plenty of tools you can use to floss, so choose the option that helps you get the job done. Some people use floss alone and wind it around their fingers for grip. If you have trouble reaching your back teeth with this method, try a floss holder or disposable flossers.

Mouthwash can be another great way to keep your mouth healthy. There are plenty of options available. If you want to prioritize cavity prevention, look for a mouthwash with fluoride.

3. Keep Your Equipment Fresh

When you’ve built your arsenal of oral care tools, it’s important to keep up with maintenance as well. You should replace your toothbrush every three or four months. If you have an electric toothbrush, you only need to replace the brush head.

4. Cover All Surfaces

If all you’re doing is brushing the chewing surfaces and fronts of your teeth, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to decay. Each tooth has five exposed surfaces, and you need to clear them all.

One common area people forget to brush is the side of their teeth that faces into their mouth. Another frequent mistake is flossing the wrong way.

When most people floss, they push the floss between their teeth once and pull it out. In reality, you need to use the floss to scrape the side of each tooth. Form a “c” shape around each tooth as you floss. Starting at the top of the tooth, scrape away so any debris or plaque comes out.

Don’t forget to floss behind your back teeth as well. If you want to continue improving your flossing technique, this website and other dentists’ sites may have more tips.

5. Don’t Forget the Tongue

Have you ever brushed your teeth and still had bad breath? Chances are that bacteria on your tongue were to blame. For fresh breath, use your toothbrush to make a few light strokes on your tongue.

You should brush all your teeth before you brush your tongue. Keeping your tongue fresh decreases bad breath and decreases the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

6. Take the Time You Need

Another frequent dental care mistake is brushing too little. A quick ten-second once-over won’t do the trick. It’s best to brush your teeth for two minutes each time you brush.

To make it easy, picture your teeth in four quadrants: bottom right, bottom left, top right, top left. Brush each quadrant for 30 seconds.

7. Stop the Scrubbing

Most people brush their teeth with a back-and-forth scrubbing motion. In reality, this can weaken your teeth’s enamel. Researchers might be experimenting with growing new teeth but we’re not there yet, so it’s important to nail down your technique.

The best way to brush your teeth is by using circular motions. It’s also important not to press so hard that the bristles flatten. The tips of the bristles are the parts that need to clean your teeth, so pressing too hard can do more harm than good.

This is why an electric toothbrush can be so helpful. The brush makes the circular motions that can be difficult for you to get a handle on with manual brushing.

8. Get Your Routine in Order

Now that you know how to floss and brush correctly, let’s talk about the proper order. While most people floss first, it’s best to brush first, then floss, and then use mouthwash.

The reason for this is basic physics. As you brush, the plaque from your teeth’s surfaces could get wedged between your teeth. If you floss before you brush rather than after, you could be undoing the benefits of flossing in the first place.

As far as mouthwash, you use it at any point in your oral care routine. Most people prefer to use it last, though, because it leaves their mouth with a fresh feeling.

Keeping Your Teeth in Tip-Top Shape

Dental problems can be expensive, painful, and time-consuming. Taking the time for proper home dental care every day can make a massive difference in your future dental visits. Besides, who doesn’t love the feeling when this Houston cosmetic dentist says, “All clear, you’re good to go!”

For more ways to take care of your teeth and other aspects of your health, check out our health blog.

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