Taking care of your teeth and gums

Tooth decay and gum disease can be prevented!

Usually, tooth decay and gum disease occur because teeth and gums are not properly cleaned.

Brush your teeth 2 times each day and for 2 minutes each time

Brush with a fluoride (FLOOR-eyed) toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps make tooth enamel stronger. There is more than one way to brush your teeth, so it’s a good idea to ask your dentist or hygienist which way works best for you.

1. Place your toothbrush against your gum line. Move the brush in soft circles about as big as the tooth you are brushing.

2. Brush the outer tooth surfaces, keeping the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.

3. Brush the inner tooth surfaces.

4. Brush the chewing surfaces.

5. Use the top part of the brush to clean the surface of the top and bottom front teeth. Use a gentle, up-and-down motion.

Be gentle when you brush!

It doesn’t take a lot of pressure to brush your teeth the right way. If you brush too hard then you may irritate your gums. This can cause them to pull away (recede) and expose the tooth’s root to bacteria in your mouth.

Tips to help you choose the right dental products for you

  • Choose products with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal on a product means that it’s been tested and proven to do what it says it will do. Look for the ADA Seal on fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, interdental cleaners, and mouth rinse. Visit ADA.org/Seal to see a list of all products that earned the ADA Seal.

  • Pick a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and in your mouth. All ADA-accepted toothbrushes — manual or powered — earned the ADA Seal because they can remove plaque above the gum line, which helps reduce gingivitis. For children, choose a child-sized toothbrush.

  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t clean your teeth properly. Children’s toothbrushes may need replacing more often because they can wear out sooner. If you have hand, arm, or shoulder problems that limit movement, you may find a powered toothbrush easier to use.

  • mouth rinse labels closely. Some mouth rinses just cover up odors; others actually kill germs and reduce plaque. Some also have fluoride. If you are constantly using a breath freshener for bad breath, see your dentist. In some cases, bad breath may be a sign of poor health.

  • Ask your dentist or hygienist for product tips. People’s needs may differ, and your dental team can point you to products for your specific needs.

This ADA educational message is displayed with permission.

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