· Brush at least twice a day — after breakfast and before bedtime. If you can, brush after lunch or after sweet snacks. Brushing properly breaks down plaque.
· Brush all of your teeth, not just the front ones. Spend some time on the teeth along the sides and in the back. Have your dentist show you the best way to brush to get your teeth clean without damaging your gums.
· Take your time while brushing. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes each time you brush. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, use a timer or play a recording of a song you like to help pass the time.
· Be sure your toothbrush has soft bristles (the package will tell you if they're soft). Ask your parent to help you get a new toothbrush every 3 months. Some toothbrushes come with bristles that change colour when it's time to change them. A trick to remembering to change your toothbrush? Change at every season change (spring, summer, fall, winter!)!
· Ask your dentist if an antibacterial mouth rinse is right for you.
· Learn how to floss your teeth, which is a very important way to keep them healthy. It feels weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you'll be a pro. Slip the dental floss between each tooth and along the gumline gently once a day. The floss gets rid of food that's hidden where your toothbrush can't get it, no matter how well you brush.
· You can also brush your tongue to help keep your breath fresh!
It's also important to visit the dentist twice a year. Besides checking for signs of cavities or gum disease, the dentist will help keep your teeth extra clean and can help you learn the best way to brush and floss.
It's not just brushing and flossing that keep your teeth healthy — you also need to be careful about what you eat and drink. Remember, the plaque on your teeth is just waiting for that sugar to arrive. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and drink water instead of soda. And don't forget to smile!