Need to brush up on your dental care habits? Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is good for your smile, and it can be good for the rest of your body, too.
See how many of these items you can check off in the next 30 days. You're on your way to a healthier mouth!
Want WebMD to automatically save your checklist?
I brushed my teeth for two minutes twice a day this week.
Use a timer to make sure you brush as long as you should. Lightly, yet firmly, use a back and forth rolling motion across your teeth and gum line.
I ate raw vegetables today.
The fiber in fruits and veggies helps switch on your salivary flow to keep food moving toward your belly and to neutralize acids that would attack your teeth.
I've scheduled my next dental visit.
Seeing your dentist as recommended can save you money, time, and pain — and your teeth. Only a professional cleaning can remove the tartar that can lead to gum disease.
I chewed sugarless gum after I ate a snack.
Chewing sends out waves of saliva to help clean away food particles and replace minerals in the enamel on your teeth.
I flossed every day this week.
Daily flossing helps prevent gum disease, and healthy gums may lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, lung problems — even Alzheimer's disease!
I had cheese today.
In addition to having calcium and phosphate to help keep your teeth strong, cheese also helps generate saliva. Bonus for your teeth!
I made sure my toothbrush is stored upright and uncovered.
A moist environment encourages the growth of microorganisms. Better to let your brush air-dry.
I kept a food diary this week.
You may not realize all of the sugary and acidic things you put in your mouth. Include candies, chewing gum, soda, and sports drinks in your diary.
I rinsed with antibacterial mouthwash when I brushed my teeth.
Mouthwash doesn't just freshen your breath. It can prevent tooth decay and reduce plaque. It also prevents gum disease.
I ate a piece of fruit instead of a sweet treat with added sugar.
Yes, sugars contribute to tooth decay. But you don't have to give up sweet foods completely. Just control how much you consume. Be smart. Choose naturally sweet foods.
I waited at least 30 minutes to brush my teeth after drinking a soda.
Most carbonated soft drinks contain acids that eat away tooth enamel. Waiting gives your saliva time to wash away the acid and protect your teeth.
I bought a replacement toothbrush with soft bristles.
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months — sooner if the bristles look worn. Soft bristles clean without damaging your teeth or irritating your gums.
American Academy of Periodontology: "Healthy Gums and a Healthy Heart: The Perio-Cardio Connection," "Connection Between Gum Disease and Respiratory Diseases."
American Dental Association: "Diet and Oral Health," "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums," "Floss & Other Interdental Cleaners," "Periodontal Disease," "Statement on Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storage and Replacement."
American Dental Hygienists' Association: "Proper Brushing."
CDC: "Oral Health."
Cleveland Clinic: "Choosing Dental Care Products."
Duckworth, R. Caries Research, Sep. 16, 2009.
Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer advisor, American Dental Association.
The Journal of the American Dental Association, "Wait to Brush Your Teeth After Drinking Soda," September 2003.
McCracken, G. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, May 2003.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health: "Oral Cancer."
Science Daily: "Gum Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Oral Health Fact Sheet."
Yale School of Medicine: "The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth."
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.