A beautiful, healthy smile starts with how you care for your teeth and gums at home.

A thorough, at-home dental care routine forms the foundation for strong teeth, healthy gums, and an attractive smile. Most people already know the basics of brushing twice a day and flossing daily, but there are also plenty more things you can do to maintain optimal oral health between dental appointments.

Here are 6 effective ways you can level up your at-home dental care routine to keep your smile shining bright.

1. Refresh your memory on proper brushing technique and time yourself to see if your two-minute mental timer is accurate.

It’s easy to go on autopilot during daily routines. When it comes to brushing and flossing, you might find yourself just going through the motions without really focusing on your technique and thoroughness. Next time you brush your teeth, try to practice mindfulness by really focusing on the way you’re cleaning each tooth.

Another great idea is to occasionally time yourself with your phone. For optimal oral health, you should brush for at least two minutes. Many people don’t brush for long enough, which could result in hard-to-reach teeth not getting properly cleaned.

2. Upgrade to an electric toothbrush and a water flosser for a more effective at-home routine.

Electric toothbrushes help you clean your teeth much more effectively than manual toothbrushes. Extensive studies support this, such as this study that found people who use electric toothbrushes had healthier gums, less tooth decay, and kept their natural teeth for longer than manual brush users.

Water flosser systems like the Waterpik are also a fun and effective upgrade. If you dread flossing, a Waterpik can be the perfect tool to encourage you to floss between your teeth more often.

3. Use an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and opt-in for fluoride treatments at appointments.

Fluoride is an important element for oral health. When your teeth are exposed to safe levels of fluoride compounds, you’re strengthening your teeth, preventing cavities, and even reversing early stages of tooth decay. Using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste is the best way of achieving this.

During dental cleanings, our hygienist will ask if you’d like our optional fluoride treatment. We encourage our patients to opt-in for this extra protection. It only takes a moment and gives you the peace of mind knowing you’re getting adequate levels of fluoride.

4. Add a tongue scraper to your oral care regimen, right before brushing your teeth.

Did you know that your tongue may be to blame for your morning breath? About 50% of halitosis cases are caused by residue on the tongue and a buildup of oral bacteria. By scraping your tongue you’re removing bacteria that cause bad breath as well as reducing your chances of developing tooth decay. It’s best to scrape before brushing to ensure loosened residue is cleaned away.

Brushing your tongue with your toothbrush is better than nothing, but it isn’t nearly as effective as using a tongue scraper tool. Next time you purchase a new toothbrush, pick up a tongue scraper too!

5. Evaluate your diet and see what changes would make it more “smile-friendly.”

Caring for your smile isn’t just about cleaning your teeth—your diet also plays an important role. Your oral health is directly linked to your general health and vice versa. A nutritious, varied diet will support your general health, and in turn, promote optimal oral health.

Take some time to think about your current diet and how you might be able to improve it. Reducing your intake of sugars, simple carbohydrates, and starches can really help prevent tooth decay. Creating personal goals to drink more water and less soda, or finding healthier alternatives to your favorite sweet treats are great ideas.

6. Consider dropping habits like alcohol and tobacco use to help support a healthy smile.

Tobacco use and indulging in alcoholic beverages on a regular basis can be just as detrimental to your body as it is to your smile. Tobacco and alcohol addictions are linked to tooth decay, dry mouth, gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth loss, and even oral cancer.

Quitting these habits is tough, but absolutely worth the effort. Getting professional help is a good idea, especially if you’ve had your habit for a while or you’ve struggled to quit on your own in the past. Once you’ve kicked these habits to the curb you’ll be rewarded with a healthier smile and body.

Don’t forget to see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and a dental check-up.

Even the most thorough at-home oral care routine isn’t a substitution for professional dental care. Dentists will notice things about your teeth and gums before they become apparent to you. When your dentist catches these warning signs before they become a serious problem, you’ll get faster treatment and a reduced chance of permanent damage.

Schedule biannual dental check-ups as well as dental cleanings, both of which are often combined in the same appointment. Your dentist may even recommend more frequent visits or cleanings if you’re recovering from tooth decay or gum disease.

Book a visit with Dr. Lang to learn what you can do to keep your smile looking its best.

Dr. Lang and his dental team are ready and waiting to help you on your journey toward your healthiest smile yet. If you’d like to book a visit or have questions about at-home oral care, just give our office a call or fill out this online appointment request form.