how to take care of teeth and gums

Understanding how to take care of your teeth and gums can minimize your time in a dental chair. And less chair time appeals to adults with dental anxiety and others with busy lives who recognize how oral health relates to total well-being. So, what can you do to take good care of your teeth and gums?

How to Take Care of Your Teeth

You can take care of your teeth with good flossing and brushing habits, healthy food choices, and protecting your health in general.

Brushing habits

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes. Take time to brush all your teeth thoroughly. How can you brush thoroughly? Follow these steps twice daily:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive paste.
  • Angle the toothbrush along your gumline.
  • Gently move the brush in circular motions or short strokes.
  • Cover the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
  • If you need to brush your teeth after a meal, wait an hour. Waiting gives your saliva time to rinse away food particles and lets the pH level in your mouth return to normal. Brushing your teeth too soon after eating interferes with natural processes.
  • Brush after your last meal to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup overnight.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Worn bristles do not clean your teeth.

Flossing habits

Floss between your teeth to remove plaque buildup. Flossing for healthy teeth includes these steps:

  • Use an 18-inch piece of floss.
  • Wrap the floss around your index fingers, and leave an inch of it to move between your teeth.
  • Form the floss in a C-shape around each tooth. Gently move the floss up and down the sides of each tooth and around the gumline.
  • Remember to floss behind your back teeth.
  • Use a clean thread of floss as needed.

How to Take Care of Your Gums

You can take care of your gums by daily flossing between your teeth to remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup and gum disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, preventing gum disease includes the same healthy habits as caring for your teeth.

Flossing for gum health

  • Use the same flossing techniques outlined in the flossing habits section above.
  • You may prefer a water flosser to stream a pulsating flow of water between your teeth and remove debris.

How Dental Visits Protect Your Oral Health

Taking care of your teeth and gums includes regular appointments with a dental hygienist and dentist. Professional cleanings remove stubborn tartar from your teeth. Also, your hygienist and dentist can detect early signs of tooth decay and gum disease and prevent them from getting worse. Waiting until you have signs or symptoms of an oral disease will cost you more time and money in the long term.

How Food Choices Affect Your Teeth and Gum Health

Your food choices can help—or harm—your teeth. Calcium and phosphorus are minerals that protect and rebuild tooth enamel. In contrast, acidic and sugary foods wear away tooth enamel and promote decay.

High-calcium food

  • Almonds
  • Cheese
  • Leafy greens
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

High-phosphorus food

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry

Sugary foods and drinks

When you eat sugary foods, they convert into acid, which can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities. Acidic fruits, tea, and coffee can also wear away tooth enamel. So, consume them in moderation, and rinse your mouth after eating or drinking acidic or sugary items.


Excessive snacking promotes tooth decay. The more you snack, acid flows in your mouth, wears on your tooth enamel, and promotes decay.

Oral Habits that Affect Your Teeth and Gums

Two oral habits that affect your teeth and gum health include alcohol abuse and tobacco use. Alcohol abuse reduces salivary flow. And The Journal of the American Dental Association confirms that alcohol abuse and tobacco use combined increase oral cancer risks.


Taking care of your teeth and gums includes brushing and flossing, eating nutritious food, and avoiding lifestyle habits that damage your oral health. Research reveals a link between periodontal (gum) disease and some medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. So, make thorough oral hygiene a habit that you will never quit.

Dr. Mo Saleh of Vancouver, Washington, offers affordable dental care to help you achieve and maintain good oral health. Contact us to schedule an exam or a complimentary consultation for dental implants or cosmetic dentistry services.

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