Oral problems are a major health concern among American adults.

One in every 4 Americans is suffering from untreated tooth decay. Around half of adults over the age of 30 are showing signs of gum disease. And 9 percent of adults age 30 or older are suffering from a severe case of gum disease.

Fixing bad oral hygiene habits is important not just for keeping your teeth beautiful, but for protecting your overall health as well.

If you’re ready to start prioritizing your dental care, keep reading to learn a few good oral hygiene tips.

1. Learn to Brush the Right Way

You probably already know that brushing your teeth regularly is key to maintaining your teeth and gum health.

But what you may not realize is that brushing correctly is perhaps even more important.

Not brushing for long enough won’t get rid of food particles in your teeth or built-up plaque. Brushing too aggressively can damage your delicate tooth enamel or even hurt your gums.

The renowned American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. They also suggest using a brush with soft bristles that won’t damage your teeth or gums.

2. Follow Up With a Floss

Another poor oral hygiene habit too many people have is overlooking the importance of flossing.

While it adds an extra step to your twice-a-day routine, flossing is an absolute must.

Brushing alone won’t dislodge food particles stuck between your teeth or plaque that has formed in those tough to reach crevices. 

The good news is that you can floss just once a day, at the end of the day. Floss before you brush so that you can brush away anything that’s dislodged. Take your time, and be sure to floss between each tooth, hugging the side of each.

3. Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year

Many people have anxiety or even fear about visiting their dentist. This, combined with the cost or a lack of time, leads nearly 40 percent of Americans to skip visiting the dentist each year.

This is a big mistake.

Visiting the dentist is essential for good oral hygiene for a number of reasons.

To start, your dentist will use a variety of tools, like these products, to give your whole mouth a deep clean. They’ll be able to reach places in your mouth and target troublesome build-up that you simply can’t treat at home.

A dentist can also spot any problems that you might be facing in your mouth. From cavities to gum disease, catching these issues early will help you treat them before they get worse.

At a minimum, you should visit your dentist once a year. But bi-annual visits are recommended. 

4. Say Goodbye to Bad Habits

Some of your other habits could be contributing to your poor oral hygiene.

Smoking causes more than just lung cancer. It also affects your body’s immune system, making it more difficult for tissues to heal. This includes the tissues of your mouth.

The CDC has identified a link between smoking and an increased chance of gum disease.

Other habits that could be hurting your teeth and gums include drinking too many sugary beverages, like soda.

5. Don’t Forget Your Tongue

Brushing isn’t just for your teeth and gums.

Plaque can also develop on your tongue. This is a contributor to bad breath. Left unchecked, it can also cause other health problems.

Each time you brush your teeth, take a few seconds to brush your tongue. Do so gently, and make sure that you’re using a brush with soft bristles to avoid scratching or irritating your tongue.

6. Make Sure Your Toothpaste Has Fluoride

Fluoride is often touted as a super-mineral for your teeth and mouth. Found naturally in our environment, this mineral can strengthen your teeth’s enamel and even prevent cavities from forming.

Most public water sources in the U.S. have fluoride added to them in small amounts. But whether your tap has fluoride or not, choosing a toothpaste with the mineral can help ensure that you have a chance to reap the benefits.

You can also opt for mouthwashes with added fluoride.

7. Add Mouthwash to Your Routine

Mouthwash is great for freshening up your breath when you don’t want to brush. But many people don’t realize that it’s also a great addition to a healthy routine.

Mouthwash serves a number of very important purposes. First, it reduces the amount of acid in your mouth. Second, it helps you reach those spots that brushing and even flossing just don’t reach.

Finally, it’s great for washing your gums, which the rest of your routine likely doesn’t target.

You’ll flush away food particles, plaque, and more, leaving your mouth fresh, clean, and protected.

Because it’s so easy to use, consider adding mouthwash to both your morning and nighttime routine.

8. Increase Your Water Intake

Skipping sugary beverages will help reduce the sugar you’re subjecting your mouth to. But swapping soda for water has other benefits as well.

Drinking plenty of water, especially when you’re eating, can help rinse away leftover food particles. It can also help to negate some of the negative side effects of consuming sticky, sugary, or acidic foods. 

Because you’ll be washing more of these away, they’ll have less of a chance of affecting your teeth and gums.

Fixing Bad Oral Hygiene Habits

Fixing bad oral hygiene habits is key to getting beautiful teeth and healthy gums.

From brushing the right way to avoiding bad habits like smoking or drinking sugary beverages, these tips can help you rethink your routine and start caring for your mouth better than ever.

If you found these tips helpful, check out the health section of our blog for more health and wellness content just like this.