Top 10 Habits for Improved Oral Health 2024

Dr. Matthew Hannan | My Dental Advocate
Toothbrushes | Top 10 Habits for Improved Oral Health | My Dental Advocate

Have you ever visited the dentist anticipating an excellent report, only to question how much you floss?

That would be a sinking feeling, especially if you thought you were doing a great job brushing and flossing.

It may take some work but improving your oral care habits is possible.

Related: Best MDA Recommended Dental Products

Need Dental Advice? Ask Dr. Hannan!

1. Limit Frequency of Snacking

Over 70 different types of bacteria live in your mouth.

Most bacteria are harmless; however, a handful can lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease. For example, Streptococcus mutans is a harmful bacterium identified with tooth decay.

Bacteria congregate into a sticky film known as dental plaque and feast on sugar consumed by the host (that’s you!).

Related: Learn more about Cavities

Their food source directly depends on your dietary habits. For example, if you snack frequently, you’re providing food for the bacteria to break down, eliciting an acid attack on your teeth. You can break this cycle by snacking less frequently or consuming healthy snacks.

Healthy Snacks

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Bananas

2. Chew Sugar-Free Gum After Meals

We lead busy lives and are unable to brush after every meal.

Our body releases saliva that contains enzymes to break down food particles. Bacteria thrive in dry, acidic environments, so properly working salivary glands are essential.

If you’re unable to brush away the remaining bacteria, chewing sugar-free gum will help clear away remaining food particles and eliminate the food source for cavity-causing bacteria.

Related: Top 6 Best Dry Mouth Product Review

3. Sip on Water During the Day

The pH in your mouth decreases (becomes more acidic) after consuming many types of food. If the pH remains elevated, bacteria will thrive, leading to an acid attack on your teeth.

If decreased salivary flow occurs, then ideal cavity conditions will increase.

Sipping on water throughout the day is a great way to neutralize the pH in your mouth. Also, water will aid your saliva in clearing away stubborn food particles trapped in and around your teeth.

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4. Consume Beverages Using a Straw

The key to limiting your risk for tooth decay involves decreasing the contact time of sugars on your teeth.

 Recommended Reading: Top 4 Best Sensitivity Toothpaste

Sugar-rich beverages are essential for many individuals; however, they threaten your teeth because each sip bathes your teeth and supplies sugars for bacteria to consume.

To limit sugar contact time, drink beverages through a straw. This way, you can enjoy your drink without increasing your chances of tooth decay.

Common Beverages

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Tea
  • Energy drinks

5. Avoid Acidic Foods & Sticky Sweets

Enamel is one of the most complex substances in our body.

However, it is prone to damage by acidic foods and sticky sweets. Sticky sweets aid this process by directly placing the bacteria’s food source onto teeth.

Acidic foods, meanwhile, will damage the enamel surface, making it weak, sensitive, and more susceptible to decay.

 Recommended Reading: Top 6 Best Floss Picks

Dental Flossing | Top 10 Habits for Improved Oral Health | My Dental Advocate

6. “C-Shaped” Flossing Technique

Healthy gums don’t bleed! The more you floss, the less your gums will bleed.

Flossing is an excellent habit many people have difficulty mastering because it’s tedious, occasionally painful, and time-consuming.

When you floss, it’s essential to hug each tooth, forming a “C-shape,” then sweep up and down before switching to the other tooth.

Even the most diligent individuals will be unable to remove all bacteria with brushing alone.

If you find yourself unable to floss regularly, try using a floss alternative such as a Waterpik or water flosser.

Related: Top 8 Best Dental Floss Review

7. Use ADA-Accepted Fluoride Mouthwash

The American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance has been the leading dental product safety and efficacy mark for 90 years. Did you know that two-thirds of Americans recognize the Seal?

In addition, 70% will choose a Seal product over a non-Seal alternative if it’s similar in nature and price.

Using an ADA accepted fluoride mouthwash nightly will help repair weakened enamel, prevent cavities, and kill oral bacteria. Plus, it will leave your mouth feeling fresh and clean.

Recommended Reading: What is the ADA Seal of Acceptance?

8. Use Electric Toothbrush with Fluoride Toothpaste

According to the American Dental Association, both manual and electric toothbrushes effectively remove oral plaque and bacteria.

However, proper use of a manual toothbrush can be difficult to achieve. As an alternative, electric toothbrushes are more effective and reliable at routinely removing more significant amounts of plaque and bacteria.

Also, most electric toothbrushes are equipped with technology to improve oral care.

Key Benefits

  • Two-minute timer
  • Bluetooth capability
  • Replacement brush heads
  • Multiple brushing modes

Fluoride toothpaste effectively repairs weekend enamel, minimizes tooth sensitivity, and prevents tooth decay.

9. Avoid Brushing After Consuming Acidic Foods

When an acid attack occurs from bacteria after food consumption, the enamel’s surface is weakened and susceptible to transformation.

Therefore, wait at least 10 minutes after consuming acidic foods or beverages for your saliva and water consumption to neutralize the pH in your mouth and remineralize the weakened enamel surface.

 Recommended Reading: Top 7 Best Sensodyne Toothpaste

10. Replace Toothbrush Every Three Months

High numbers of oral bacteria are in your mouth and your toothbrush.

Therefore, replacing your toothbrush every three months is essential to minimize the bacterial load in your mouth. Replacement brush heads are also available for electric toothbrushes.

In addition, some companies, such as BURST, offer subscription brush head services, so you never have to remember when to replace your brush head.

My Experience & Expertise

Recognizing bad habits can be challenging, especially if you’ve been doing them for many years.

So implement these ten simple habits to improve your oral health and ace your next dental exam.

Need a second opinion? We can help! Learn more. Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!


About the Author

Dr. Matthew Hannan, also known as “Dr. Advocate,” is a board-certified dentist on a mission to provide accurate dental patient education. He attended Baylor University before completing dental school at UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry. He now lives in Arizona with his beautiful wife and 4 kids. Dr. Hannan believes everyone should access easy-to-read dental resources with relevant, up-to-date dental research and insight to improve their oral health.

Matt Hannan, DDS Signature | My Dental Advocate

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