Speaking as a man who recently underwent root canal surgery without anesthetic in a backstreet Vietnamese dental clinic I've developed a new-found appreciation for the importance of oral care. That mouthful of pearly whites is one of the few aspects of your health and appearance over which you have complete control. With enough care and attention there's no reason that you can't make it through life with a set of perfect teeth.
Most of us could stand to ratchet up our oral care. We all have bad habits, and we're all prone to bouts of laziness and inattention. So, to kick start your new dental regime here are four things you should be doing to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.
Throw Away Your Toothbrush...
... And buy yourself a nice, fresh one. Most of us are a little slack when it comes to regularly replacing our brushes, and with good reason. Unless you chew the bristles every morning your toothbrush should still look perfectly good for six months or more.
However, dentists recommend that we replace them every two to three months to prevent the spread of bacteria. Those bristles may look nice and fresh, but beneath the surface they're teeming with bacteria that grow in the moist spaces deep in the brush. To avoid transferring those nasty organisms straight back into your mouth you should replace your brush at least four times each year.
Brush with Baking Soda
Many brands of toothpaste now come with baking soda included, but if you want to go old school you can brush with pure baking soda or salt once a week to remove stains and whiten your teeth. This is doubly important if you're a smoker or like the occasional glass of red wine, as a once a week oral care treatment will help avoid those unsightly stains that tend to build up over time.
Build Strategic Floss Reserves
Flossing is one of those things most of us do intermittently. If it's handy we'll use it, but we'll rarely go out of our way to hunt it down.
However, if you keep a supply of floss handy in several locations you'll never have a reason not to clear out troublesome food fragments from those hard to reach places. Simply keep a package in your bathroom, beside your bed, at your desk and in the car. How hard can it be if the floss is right there?
Stick to Your Schedule
It takes ten days for an activity to become habit forming. Once you've passed that barrier it no longer feels like a strain or nuisance to perform a particular activity. For the next ten days, then, you should brush your teeth last thing before bed and first thing in the morning.
We all know how important it is to keep our teeth clean, but all too often we fail to brush more than once a day (and if you forget to brush in the morning you need to seriously alter your habits). Brushing last thing at night will clear your teeth before your saliva production slows and they become a playground for cavity-forming plaque. It's the single most important thing you can change today to keep your teeth in great condition.