Brush Up

If you brush your teeth twice a day that’s enough, right? Not necessarily. Half-hearted, rushed brushing may not prevent cavities — and may even harm teeth and gums. To make sure your pearly whites last a lifetime, choose the right toothbrush (ask your dentist or hygienist; electric may be best) and use proper technique:

Soften up. Use soft-bristle brushes and don’t scrub too hard.

Approach at an angle. Aim brush toward the gum line and use short, back-and-forth strokes. Give equal time to each tooth, including those hard-to-reach molars.

Go above and beyond. Brushing after each meal is ideal. The longer food cozies up to your teeth, the more likely it will cause plaque.

Favor fluoride. Make sure your toothpaste contains a tooth decay fighter. Tap water has added fluoride, so opt for it instead of bottled whenever it’s safe.

Change it up. Replace your brush every 3 to 4 months. With daily use, bristles wear out and become less effective.

Just 5 minutes twice a day and regular checkups every 6 months will help more than your smile. Your teeth and gums speak volumes about your health — heart disease, diabetes, premature birth, leukemia, eating disorders, and vitamin deficiencies can be detected simply by opening wide. A healthy mouth could mean a healthier you.

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