1. Go on a white-teeth diet: What goes in shows up on your teeth. So if you’re drinking a lot of red wine and black tea, or smoking cigarettes, expect the results to show up as not-so-pearly whites. Other culprits include colas, gravies and dark juices. The bottom line: if it’s dark before you put it in your mouth, it will probably stain your teeth. Step one: brush your teeth immediately after having foods that stain. Step two: regularly use a good bleaching agent, either from the pharmacy or your dentist. Step three: be conscious of tooth-staining foods and drinks, and have them only when a toothbrush is around. If not, have an apple for dessert.
2. Hum while you brush: The ideal amount of time to brush to get all the bacteria-packed plaque out is at least two minutes, researchers found. Use your watch or keep a timer in the bathroom and set it for two minutes. Or find a tune that lasts about two minutes and hum it to the end.
3. Grip your toothbrush like a pencil: Does your toothbrush look as if it’s been used to clean the car? If so, you’re probably brushing too hard. Contrary to what some scrub-happy people think, brushing with force is not the best way to remove plaque. The best way is to place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle against your gums and gently move it in a circular motion, rather than a back-and-forth motion. Grip the toothbrush like a pencil so you won’t scrub too hard.
4. Drink a cup of tea every day: Flavonoids and other ingredients in tea seem to prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth, and also block production of a type of sugar that contributes to cavities. Tea also contains high amounts of fluoride.
5. Change your brush: Throw away your toothbrush or change the head of your electric toothbrush at least every two to three months. You need a new toothbrush because the newer bristles clean more efficiently. Once they get splayed out you have to push harder to get the same result.
6. Use alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse away bacteria: Most over-the-counter mouthwashes have too much alcohol, which can dry out the tissues in your mouth, making them more susceptible to bacteria. Some studies even suggest a link between mouthwashes containing alcohol and an increased risk of oral cancer. 7. Clean your tongue: Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath. A major cause of bad breath is the build-up of bacteria on the tongue, which a daily tongue scraping will help to banish.
8. Cut back on sugar: Avoid sugary foods. Sugar plus bacteria equals oral plaque. Plaque can then leed tooth decay and cavities.
9. Eat tooth-cleaning foods: Foods that are firm or crisp help to clean the teeth as they’re eaten. Apples have already been mentioned; other choices include raw carrots, celery and (unsweetened) popcorn. For best results, make “detergent” foods the final food you eat in your meal if you know you can’t brush your teeth straight after eating.
10. Hydrate: Not only does the water help to keep your digestive system healthy and hydrate your skin, but it also helps to keep your teeth white. The more water you drink, the more bacteria you flush off your teeth and out of your mouth, meaning less risk of gum disease, fewer cavities and fresher breath.
11. Keep teeth for eating: If you have the right gadgets to hand, you won’t be tempted to use your teeth as tools, which can damage them. In fact, never, ever use your teeth as tools for anything except eating.
12. Check your breath: To check the freshness of your breath, lick your palm and smell it while it’s still wet. If you smell something, it’s time for a sugar-free breath mint or to brush your teeth.
13. Prevent tooth fractures: Suck on very hard foodstuffs such as hard candy or ice, do not chew. Chewing hard foods creates tiny fractures in the enamel of your teeth that, over the years, combine to result in major cracks.