Practicing good dental hygiene is essential for having a lifetime of healthy teeth, as well as providing you with the most beautiful smile you can achieve.

The keys to good dental hygiene are removing plaque, being aware of the foods in your diet and having regular professional dental cleanings.

Here is a list of best practices that you and your family should use to keep you on the path to great oral health!


Most people have a habit of brushing but don’t realize that 30% of the tooth surface is between the teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach! As simple as it seems, flossing at least once a day is critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy mouth.

Be gentle while flossing, but if flossing gently still causes some bleeding of the gums, it just means that you need to do it more regularly. The gums will strengthen with consistent flossing. If gum bleeding is persistent, make sure to consult your dentist as this could be a sign of gum disease.

To encourage more flossing, try this tip. Place packages of floss in places that are visible and will encourage you to use it – for example in your car, your desk, your purse, your briefcase or on your nightstand.


Brushing twice per day is very important in reducing the ability of plaque to build up on the teeth. Instead of brushing harder, however, brush for a longer duration. It is recommended that one brushing session take about two minutes. Time yourself to see how long two minutes actually is until you get the feel for the right amount of brushing time.

Another factor related to brushing is replacing worn out toothbrushes. Worn toothbrushes are ineffective and can also be unsanitary. As a general rule of thumb, replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if you’ve had an illness.

The right toothbrush can also aid in maintaining optimal health. Soft bristled toothbrushes are actually preferable as hard bristled toothbrushes can damage the gums. Brushing should be gentle and feel good – as if you are massaging the gums.


Certain foods and beverages are known to stain the teeth and sticky or sugary foods are known to promote cavities. Teeth staining foods include: red wine, black tea, colas, gravies, and dark juices. In general, darkly colored foods often stain the teeth. To minimize the effects of staining foods, brush immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth, if possible.

Certain foods can provide a teeth cleansing function if you are not able to brush immediately. Foods that are firm or crisp help clean teeth as they’re eaten. Teeth cleaning foods include: apples, raw carrots, celery, and popcorn.

Tongue health

The tongue cannot be forgotten in any discussion about oral health. Since the tongue can experience bacteria buildup and be a major cause of bad breath, it’s a good idea to use a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath.


Most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain alcohol as an ingredient. This can dry out the tissues in your mouth and make them more susceptible to bacteria growth. Make sure to use an alcohol-free mouthwash to get results that won’t dry out your mouth at the same time.

Professional Cleanings

Dental hygienists remove plaque buildup that you are no longer able to remove through brushing, flossing and good diet. No matter how diligent you are with the toothbrush and floss, professional cleanings are essential for long term oral health.

How often you need to have professional hygiene treatments depends on a number of factors. It’s best to ask your dentist and hygienist how often you need a cleaning.