“Brush twice and floss once every day.” We’ve all heard this generic advice for basic dental care since we were kids. While these are great recommendations, there are many other ways to keep your teeth healthy and protect your smile for a lifetime. 

In this article, we’ll review 5 ways (in addition to brushing and flossing) to care for your smile and prevent unnecessary wear and tear.


1 | Use different cleaning tools.


Basic toothbrushes and standard dental floss do a decent job of cleaning the surfaces of and in between teeth, but they can still leave food particles in your mouth. Those who have crowded teeth usually have the hardest time with effective flossing techniques. If you feel like flossing just isn’t cutting it, or if you’re struggling with routine cleaning during orthodontic treatments, here are 3 additional tools to consider:


  • Dental picks. These small tools are uniquely shaped to help remove food that gets stuck in braces and other orthodontic appliances.


  • Proxa brush. Proxa brushes come in all shapes and sizes, and they are specifically designed to help you brush at angles (and in places) that are hard to reach with a traditional toothbrush.
  • Waterpik. As opposed to traditional flossing, Waterpiks clean between teeth with a small stream of water that breaks up and washes particles away. Waterpiks are a great supplement to flossing because they are gentle on sensitive gum lines.


2 | Avoid frequent snacking.


We know it’s hard to not pop open a bag of snacks between classes or during the last half of the workday. Nonetheless, frequent snacking is a common culprit that causes tooth decay. What if you spend all day eating healthy snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts? Unfortunately, all snacking can contribute to tooth decay.

While sugary, processed foods and drinks certainly affect teeth more, increased saliva production and natural sugars from healthy foods all encourage plaque production. Cutting back your daily snacking routines will help prevent plaque buildup. Teeth cleaning after snacking is also recommended – but you can read more about this topic in our recent article on 4 ways to keep a healthy smile in 2022.


3 | Take vitamins.


Vitamins and minerals can help balance your pH levels and promote general oral health. Doctors suggest adding more vitamin B2 to your diet for the following benefits:

  • Reduce the effects and occurrence of canker sores.
  • Ease gum inflammation.
  • Reduce the risk of gum cancer.
  • Help with tongue sensitivity.


4 | Avoid teeth grinding and clenching.


Chronic bad habits like teeth grinding and clenching usually happen subconsciously, and they can even be comfort mechanisms for dealing with stress or while exercising. Repeated movement of or stress against your teeth can cause severe damage, especially over several years. For some, these habits can be medically diagnosed as a condition called bruxism.  

It can be hard to simply remember not to grind or clench your teeth, but an orthodontist can provide helpful advice and devices for managing these habits. Devices are particularly helpful for those who grind their teeth in their sleep or are struggling to gain control over clenching reflexes.


5 | Don’t chew on nails, pencils, or anything else that you don’t plan to eat!


Aside from being good for your general health, dentists and orthodontists highly recommend that patients avoid habitual chewing and nail-biting to protect their teeth and gums. Food alone causes enough wear on teeth, and these habits can cause lots of unnecessary enamel erosion. Increased erosion can heighten tooth and gum sensitivity, and aggressive chewing could also chip or crack teeth.

Here’s How We Can Help


Contact our team if you’re ready to learn more about orthodontic treatments for yourself or a family member. We offer a no-pressure consultation to assess potential orthodontic needs, and you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about the process, treatments, timeline, and more.

At Oppenhuizen Orthodontics, we always strive to help patients go beyond the baseline and help them “know what they don’t know” as Dr. Oppenhuizen says in the video below. Hear more from Dr. Oppenhuizen on how to choose the orthodontist that’s right for you and your family: