Plaque wreaks havoc on your teeth. This invisible build-up of bad bacteria sticks to the surface of your teeth, eating away to cause decay. Other types of plaque can cause gum disease if left unchecked.
Establishing a good dental hygiene routine is the first step to effectively removing plaque, but what exactly does a good routine look like? Use the tips below to improve your daily routine and learn new ways to get rid of harmful plaque.
1. Brush at Least Twice Per Day
It’s an obvious tip, but one that needs repeating: brush your teeth at least twice per day. Brushing is the most effective way to remove plaque and prevent a build-up of bacteria that can decay your teeth.
If you haven’t done so already, make it a habit to brush once in the morning and once in the evening. If you can, brush after lunch, too.
2. Floss Every Time You Brush
Just like brushing, everyone knows they should be flossing, but most people forget to do it. To make it easier to remember, floss every time you brush.
Flossing using a water flosser removes plaque and food particles in between your teeth – spots where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Many dentists agree – flossing is equally as important as brushing.
3. Brush for Two Minutes
A proper brushing takes two full minutes, but most of us are rinsing and out the door before we even get to a minute-and-a-half.
Here’s what the ideal brushing routine looks like:
- 30 seconds brushing the outer surface of your upper teeth
- 30 seconds brushing the outer surface of your lower teeth
- 30 seconds brushing the inner surface of your upper teeth
- 30 seconds brushing the inner surface of your lower teeth
Finish up by cleaning your tongue to get rid of any last bacteria and to freshen your breath.
Bring a stopwatch with you each time you brush your teeth to make sure you’re going for the dentist-recommended two-minute time.
4. Use the Proper Brushing Technique
Brushing too hard, too quickly or in the wrong direction can make plaque removal difficult. Use these tips to brush properly:
- Keep your brush at a 45-degree angle
- Use gentle, short strokes
- Pay extra attention to the gumline and the back of the teeth
Dentists recommend choosing a soft-bristled brush to remove the most plaque and debris.
5. Schedule Regular Cleanings with Your Dentist
Experts recommend seeing your dentists at least once per year, but scheduling regular cleanings can help keep plaque and tartar at bay.
Even with brushing and flossing three times a day, it’s not always easy or possible to remove all plaque. Over time, plaque build-up turns into tartar, which can only be removed by your dentist.
Routine cleanings can help prevent extreme tartar build-up and remove plaque from places your floss and brush can’t easily reach.
6. Try an Electric Toothbrush
If you’re looking to maximize plaque removal, an electric brush is the way to go. Several studies show that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual brushes.
While higher in cost, electric brushes offer more cleaning power, and some models even come with special cleaning modes to meet your personal dental needs.
7. Eat Cheese Before Meals
A study from the U.S. Academy of General Dentistry found that eating cheese increases production of alkaline saliva while creating a protective layer that keeps acid at bay. Essentially, cheese neutralizes plaque acid, which can help prevent decay.
While you shouldn’t go overboard, eating a slice of cheese before meals can help reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth.
8. Use an Anti-Bacterial Mouthwash
While mouthwash can never replace brushing and flossing when it comes to removing plaque, there are antibacterial mouthwashes that can decrease plaque build-up.
Mouthwashes contain antimicrobial agents that kill oral bacteria and reduce plaque, which helps prevent gum disease. They also contain fluoride to minimize tooth decay and odor neutralizers that freshen your breath.
Your dentist may be able to recommend or prescribe a mouthwash at your next visit.
To prevent tooth decay and gingivitis, plaque needs to be removed from your teeth as soon as possible. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing can go a long way in keeping your teeth plaque-free, but you can use the other tips above to take your routine one step further and really minimize plaque build-up.