It should go without saying that tooth brushing is a prerequisite for a healthy set of chompers. Still, most of us haven’t given much thought to our oral hygiene beyond a twice-daily scrub—until now.
As it turns out, the most “efficient” way to brush your teeth isn’t technically to brush them at all, according to Philippe Hujoel, a dentist and professor of oral health at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Yep, you read that right: Science still hasn’t confirmed that either brushing or flossing can definitely prevent cavities. The most surefire method of cavity prevention? Avoid eating sugar and other simple carbohydrates, Hujoel told Popular Science.
Here’s why: Right now, your mouth is filled of hundreds of bacteria. While some are good for your oral health, certain harmful bacteria thrive off of the sugars left on your teeth. Bad bacteria emits acids that destroy your tooth enamel and form the infections that lead to cavities. If left untreated, those cavities can eventually reach into the deeper layers of your tooth, which causes pain and potential tooth loss. On the flip side, eat these foods for stronger, whiter teeth.
Of course, flossing and brushing your teeth will certainly do more good than harm, too. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing your teeth once per day. But do so gently, they say, by guiding the floss between your teeth in a soft up-and-down motion—not snapping it against your gums. Improper flossing can cause your gums to recede and create spaces between your teeth where food and other gunk can get stuck. Those spots, called black interproximal triangles, are “permanent and irreversible,” according to Popular Science. (By the way, these everyday mistakes are ruining your teeth, too.)
The same care goes for brushing, as well. According to the ADA, you should hold the brush at a 45-degree angle from your gums and gently move the brush back and forth using short, tooth-wide strokes. As with flossing, pressing down too hard can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums.
Congratulations! You’re now on your way to a mouth full of pearly whites. But first, learn these 10 tips for healthy, white teeth.