October is National Hygiene Month. And, what better way to celebrate than to share a few tips from the men and women in the dental office trenches: the dental hygienists! They work each and every day to help ensure you’ve got the whitest, cleanest smile you can flash, day-in and day-out. And while the advice you tend to hear from them is of the good ol’ “brush twice a day, floss more often” variety, there are a few interesting bits in this list you may have not heard before. Let’s check them out!

  • Consider a Child’s Toothbrush: If you’ve ever sat in the hygienist’s chair and had them marvel as to how small your mouth is, you might want to consider a return to the kiddie aisle when it comes time to pick up your next toothbrush. Too big a brush can cause you to miss spots when cleaning and can wear down your enamel if you’re not careful. So, the next time you’re in the hygienist’s chair, ask them what they recommend. Heck, you may even enjoy the flashing two-minute timer that comes with most kids’ brushes. Consider it an extra bonus!
  • Leave the Toothpaste Aside for a Minute: Did you know brushing without toothpaste prior to doing so with toothpaste can help reduce plaque build-up by 63%? In a six-month trial published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, patients who first brushed their teeth with a toothbrush that didn’t contain toothpaste (and then with toothpaste afterwards) saw exactly those
  • Carry a straw with you: You might find this silly, but if you enjoy having white teeth and want to maintain that freshness without whitening treatments, carry a straw wherever you go. Since teeth are porous, they tend to pick up dark colors like coffee, tea, wine, and colas. Using a straw transfers these liquids past the front surface of your teeth and helps to keep your pearly-whites … well, white!  So, consider a straw the next time you’re out. Yes, we know you won’t sip your expensive Cabernet through a straw, and that many of you can’t bring yourself to use one with your adult beverage. So at the very least, rinse with water in between sips.
  • Brush right after meals? No way! Most people think the best thing they can do after meals is to run right into the bathroom and brush their teeth. Surprisingly, this is actually a bad idea. And, it’s a bad idea for the same reason that teeth can carry a stain around long after you’ve enjoyed the aforementioned glass of Cabernet – they’re porous and are more vulnerable to the acids in your mouth right after you’ve eaten. Your best course of action, then, is to wait 30 to 60 minutes before you head into hygiene-mode. Your teeth will thank you in the long run!

So, there you have it. Four, simple, easy-to-use tips you should feel free to share with the rest of the world. And, from hygienists everywhere, thank you for taking care of your teeth!