With October being National Dental Hygiene Month, it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating good personal dental hygiene into your daily life. Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums can help prevent bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. Plus, an unhealthy mouth may increase your risk for serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Here are a variety of simple dental tips to follow so that you can maintain a healthy smile:

  • Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth – The general recommendation is to brush at least twice a day. Still, many of us continue to neglect brushing our teeth at night. Brushing before bed gets rid of the germs and plaque that accumulate throughout the day.
  • Brush properly – Doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is almost as bad as not brushing at all. Move your toothbrush in gentle, circular motions for two minutes to remove plaque. And don’t forget to brush your tongue, too.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste – No matter which brand of toothpaste you choose, make sure it contains fluoride. Fluoride is a leading defense against tooth decay and tartar buildup. It works by fighting germs, as well as providing a protective barrier for your teeth.
  • Treat flossing as important as brushing – Flossing is a way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque and help lower inflammation in the area. Flossing once a day is usually enough to reap these benefits. Ready-to-use dental flossers from the drugstore can make a difference.
  • Consider using mouthwash – Mouthwash reduces the amount of acid in the mouth, cleans hard-to-brush areas in and around the gums, and re-mineralizes the teeth.
  • Drink more water – As a rule of thumb, drink water after every meal. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.
  • Limit sugary and acidic foods and beverages – Be mindful on how much sugar goes into your mouth. Sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year – At minimum, you should see your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year. Not only can a dentist remove tartar and look for cavities, but they will also be able to spot potential issues and offer treatment solutions. Contact your dentist if you notice any issues with your teeth or mouth.

Remember, good oral health and dental hygiene can positively affect your overall health. That’s something to smile about!