Dental hygiene

Dental hygiene: 21 tips for healthy teeth

How can I find the best tooth brush or tooth paste for me? What should I keep in mind when brushing my teeth? And what else should I include in my dental hygiene regimen? bestsmile has put together a list of tips to keep your teeth in optimal health.

Dental hygiene toothbrush

1. Brush your teeth regularly

Healthy teeth need to be properly taken care of. The most important part of this is brushing your teeth regularly – at least twice a day, with three being better: morning, noon and night. Regular brushing reliably removes deposits on teeth – known as plaque – and helps to prevent cavities and unpleasant trips to the dentist.

2. Electric tooth brush or manual tooth brush?

What's the best tooth brush for having clean teeth: an electric tooth brush or a conventional manual tooth brush? Both types of tooth brushes have pros and cons. Many people prefer electric tooth brushes because they clean your teeth more thoroughly than manual ones. However, using electric tooth brushes puts you at higher risk of damaging your gums. So there's not a one-size-fits-all answer as to which tooth brush is better.

Some studies have found that electric tooth brushes remove more plaque on average than manual tooth brushes.* However, it's not clear whether using an electric tooth brush leads to fewer diseases (such as periodontitis) over the long term. As long as you brush thoroughly and regularly, it's fine to use either an electric or a manual tooth brush.

3. Soft vs. hard tooth brushes

Once you've decided on an electric or a manual tooth brush, the next question is how hard or soft your tooth brush should be. Medium to soft tooth brushes are the best and most protective of your teeth and gums. The harder the tooth brush, the greater the risk of injuring your gums. If you apply too much pressure when using a hard tooth brush, your gums may end up in pain or even experience bleeding. For this reason we advise choosing a softer brush.

You should also choose a tooth brush with an appropriately sized head. If your tooth brush is too big, you'll have trouble reaching your molars.

bestsmile tooth brush

4. Change out your tooth brush

By the way, regardless of which type of tooth brush you choose, you should replace it after around 3 months. Otherwise it's home to too much bacteria. The brush heads also lose their shape. They can't reach every area, meaning they remove much less plaque and lead to improperly cleaned teeth.

5. Brush your teeth with the right technique

Applying excessive pressure and brushing your teeth too aggressively can cause pain and injury. It's better to clean your teeth with gentle motions – in circles from the back teeth to the front, and starting from the gums and working down to the teeth. In other words, you should start at the neck of your teeth near the gums and move your brush in a circular motion until reaching the bottom of the tooth. Applying too much pressure can cause your gums to recede and a wedge-shaped defect to form at the neck of the tooth. Try to avoid simply scrubbing back and forth.

You can mentally section off your teeth in order to better control the process: upper left, upper right, lower left and lower right. This way you can work section by section and rest assured that you've thoroughly cleaned each area.

6. Fluoride tooth paste

We recommend using a tooth paste with fluoride, which has antibacterial properties and makes tooth enamel harder and more resistant. This prevents cavities from forming and supports optimal oral hygiene. However, fluoride can be dangerous or even poisonous in large quantities. But there's no need to worry: there are only small, legally regulated quantities of fluoride in tooth paste. You would have to eat three tubes of tooth paste to overdose on fluoride. The small amounts ingested when brushing your teeth aren't harmful or dangerous.

7. Be careful with whitening tooth paste

Use whitening tooth paste with caution. Many contain tiny particles that literally scrub away discolouration and plaque on teeth. This attacks the tooth and can remove or damage important tooth enamel in the process. Over the long run, tiny cracks in the tooth end up collecting discolourations and cannot be neutralised.

8. Floss between your teeth

It's not only your teeth that need to be cleaned regularly but also the space between them. No tooth brush, regardless of whether it's electric or manual, can reach into and clean the gaps between teeth. For this reason we recommend flossing once per day. This prevents plaque from accumulating between your teeth and removes stubborn bits of food that get caught there. When flossing you should also be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid injuring your gums.

Dental floss

9. Mouth wash for dental hygiene

It's a good idea to occasionally use mouth wash for good oral hygiene, fresh breath and a bit of extra protection. If your gums are prone to inflammation, for instance, you should use a mouth wash that offers protection for your gums. Just like with tooth paste, mouth washes that contain fluoride can also strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Natural mouth washes like sage or mint water can also effectively remove odour-causing bacteria from your mouth.

10. Take care of your gums, too

Healthy gums are a big part of having good dental hygiene. They also play an essential role in maintaining healthy teeth, as they cover the sensitive neck of the tooth and prevent plaque and bacteria from accumulating there.

Properly brushing your teeth and exercising the necessary care and caution can help keep your gums in top shape. Use gentle motions instead of firm pressure when brushing your teeth to prevent injury to your gums. Cleaning between your teeth is also part of keeping your gums healthy. Thoroughly cleaning your teeth also has a positive impact on your gums. In turn this prevents inflammation and unpleasant odours and keeps your teeth from falling out prematurely.

11. Clean your tongue to prevent bad breath

Have you ever heard of a tongue scraper? This tool reduces bacteria and build-up on the tongue and can be a good addition to your dental hygiene regimen. Bacteria or build-up can be responsible for causing bad breath, so regular removal can help you breathe freely. And there’s more: cleaning your tongue can also enhance your sense of taste. A clean tongue will perceive sweet and savoury flavours more intensely.

12. When to brush your teeth

As schoolchildren, everyone learns that they should brush their teeth regularly. But when is the right time?

As a general rule, the best time to clean your teeth is 30 minutes after eating. The reason is that acids from food can attack dental enamel. The surface of your teeth is less hard than usual right after eating due to sour pH levels. If you brush your teeth immediately afterwards, this can lead to slight loss of enamel. But if you wait about half an hour, your saliva will regenerate, and one of the roles of saliva is to neutralise acids.

If you sometimes don't have time to wait, it's not a problem. You can rinse out your mouth with water before brushing – this also acts to neutralise acid. But as a rule of thumb, it's best not to brush right after a meal.

13. Chewing gum

Chewing gum is no replacement for brushing your teeth. But just like with tip #9, chewing gum can help to neutralise acids from eating by stimulating the production of saliva. Be sure to avoid gum that contains sugar, which promotes the formation of cavities. Sugar-free gum, however, is a completely acceptable way of achieving fresh breath if you don't have a tooth brush on hand.

14. Turn off the tap

Here's another tip when it comes to brushing your teeth: don't forget to turn off the tap when doing so. This can save up to 6 litres of water each brushing session. This way you can promote your health and the environment at the same time.

15. Good nutrition is key

As children, we all learn that sweets are bad for your teeth. The sugar content, combined with the bacteria in our mouths, attacks and damages dental enamel over the long term. This applies not only to chocolates and gummy candies but also to the natural sugars contained in food items such as fruit.

Good food for teeth and gums

Did you know that there's also food that's good for your teeth and gums? Here are a few examples of food and beverages that support great oral hygiene.

Water

Still water thins out and neutralises acids in the mouth and also removes any food that gets caught between your teeth.

Raw vegetables

In addition to being an excellent source of vitamins, raw carrots, celery and other vegetables have the advantage that they need to be chewed thoroughly. The intense chewing needed to break down those hard fibres is good for our jaw muscles, massages gums and cleans teeth.

Whole grain bread

Just like raw veggies, whole grain bread needs to be chewed thoroughly. The rough surface of the grains removes deposits on the teeth when chewing. Intense chewing motions also trigger the production of saliva, which neutralises harmful acids in our mouths and protects our teeth.

Meat and eggs

Food that's good for our bones is usually also good for our teeth. Meat, eggs and many nuts contain calcium, which strengthens and supports bones and teeth.

These foods can stain your teeth

In addition to acidic and sugary foods, there are other foods that aren't ideal for your teeth. The following food and beverage items don't damage your teeth directly but can lead to stubborn stains:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • red beets
  • curry
  • red wine
  • fruit juice
  • soft drinks

Smoking can also stain your teeth over the long term.

16. Whitening (bleaching)

Teeth become stained not just from eating certain foods – the natural colour of your teeth also plays a role. The older we get, the thinner our enamel becomes. The naturally yellow dentine layer underneath then shines through, making our teeth appear more yellowish over time. Whitening can help lighten your teeth.

If you opt for the bestsmile Aligner treatment of both jaws, you will get a free bestsmile Home Bleaching Kit to help safely brighten up your teeth.

bestsmile teeth whitening kit

You should note that in most cases, the colour of your teeth isn't indicative of dental health or hygiene. Clean and healthy teeth can also be yellowish due to their natural colouring. Most people want to have whiter teeth for aesthetic rather than health reasons.

17. Professional teeth cleaning and dental hygiene

Regular visits to the dentist are a must for healthy teeth. This includes annual check-ups as well as professional teeth cleaning, which you should have done once or twice per year. Professional cleaning can help remove stubborn deposits, staining and hardened plaque. This protects teeth from cavities and prevents dental diseases. Professional cleaning is simply a must for healthy teeth and good oral hygiene.

18. Dental hygiene with an Aligner

During your bestsmile Aligner treatment you should take care of your teeth as usual. Brush thoroughly after every meal and clean your Aligners either by rinsing them with water or brushing them with a bit of tooth paste. During the course of your Aligner treatment you still need to brush your teeth properly and clean the spaces between your teeth.

Clear aligner

You should also clean and take care of the Aligners – at least once per day using tooth paste. You can also occasionally soak it in water with a cleaning tablet. Remember to use only cold water for cleaning your Aligners. Heat can deform the plastic and cause them to sit imperfectly on your teeth.

More about Aligners

19. Dental hygiene with a retainer

After finishing your Aligner treatment, there are different ways to keep your new bite permanently in place:

  • Wire retainer
  • Retainer Aligner

Wearing a Retainer Aligner overnight doesn't change anything about your dental hygiene regimen. You just need to remember to clean the retainer itself.

Wire retainer for teeth

Even with a wire retainer you can still carry on with your dental hygiene regimen as usual. You can use an interdental brush to clean between the teeth that have wire.

20. Dental hygiene with a grinding guard

Did you know that a grinding guard can be a preventive measure (prophylaxis) to keep teeth healthy and beautiful? Teeth grinding can have a lot of negative consequences, one of which is wearing down your teeth. Constant pressure and friction slowly wear down tooth enamel. In extreme cases, teeth can suffer both functionally and aesthetically. If you grind your teeth, wearing a grinding guard at night is a good tip to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful over the long run.

Mouth guard for teeth grinding

Wearing the bestsmile Relax Retainer doesn't change anything about your dental hygiene routine. You should continue to follow all the guidelines for brushing your teeth properly. You should brush your grinding guard as if it were a normal retainer.

Brush it every morning with a tooth brush and a bit of tooth paste. Use cold water so that it keeps its shape. Occasionally soak it in water with a cleaning tablet.

21. Dental hygiene with Veneers

Veneers

You should take care of your Veneers just like you would with your other teeth. All tips for good oral and dental hygiene also apply to Veneers. As a general rule, you can treat your Veneers as if they were your natural teeth. So this means that they would also need to be protected if you tend to grind your teeth, for instance.

More about Veneers