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You don't need a Ph.D. to make it onto the oral health honor roll! In fact, maintaining a gleaming set of pearly whites is really pretty simple. Just start with the basic steps below, recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).
- Pick the best brush and paste. The ADA suggests using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a shape and size that comfortably fits in your mouth and lets you reach all the areas that need cleaning. The group also recommends a fluoride toothpaste bearing the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which denotes products the group has found to be safe and effective. (Search a list of ADA-accepted products here.)
- Perfect your technique. For the most thorough cleaning, start with your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and brush gently back and forth in tooth-wide strokes. To scrub the inside of your front teeth, hold your toothbrush vertically and make up-and-down strokes. Make sure to get all surfaces of each tooth, and brush your tongue, too!
- Follow the 2x2 rule. The ADA recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day and spend about two minutes on the task each time.
- Replace regularly. It's time for a new toothbrush when the bristles start looking frayed — or at least every three to four months, whichever comes sooner.
- Follow up with floss. Flossing at least once per day removes plaque and food particles in places your toothbrush can’t reach. You can choose waxed, unwaxed, thick or comfort floss, or opt for floss alternatives, such as dental picks, pre-threaded flossing tools or wooden plaque removers.
- Think "dental friendly" with your diet. You know it's important to limit sugar intake to help prevent cavities. But your teeth will also benefit if you rein in caffeine, carbonation, citric acid and sticky foods.
Of course, visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams is also an important part of maintaining your oral health — and keeping that shiny white smile! Your CareCredit credit card can help with co-pays and other costs not covered by insurance. Use our online Locator to find a dentist near you who accepts your card.
Chew your way to cavity prevention
It's simple: Just pop in a piece of sugarless gum after meals and chew for 20 minutes. According to the American Dental Association, this increases saliva flow to your mouth, which brings these decay-fighting benefits:
- Washes away food debris
- Neutralizes acid
- Provides disease-fighting substances
- Delivers more calcium and phosphate
The ADA suggests using a gum that carries its Seal of Approval. And remember, no matter how much gum you chew, it shouldn't replace good daily dental care!
MouthHealthy.org, American Dental Association, accessed June 22, 2015:
“Brushing Your Teeth,” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth
“Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth,” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/9-Foods-That-Damage-Your-Teeth
“Chewing Gum to Prevent Cavities,” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/chewing-gum
All statements and opinions in "Healthy Smile 101" are the sole opinions of the Customer Communications Group and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.