dental tips

When it comes to dental health techniques, brushing and flossing are just the tip of the iceberg. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

For most people, dental health is merely a matter of brushing and flossing. However, depending on your situation, it can get a lot more complicated. Whether you’re a parent, wear braces, have an insurmountable fear of the dentist, or simply want to optimize your oral hygiene routine, you can benefit from the following dental tips.

1. Floss before you brush.
To maximize the effectiveness of brushing, make it the final step of your oral hygiene routine. Always floss before you brush—it’ll remove food particles from the spaces between your teeth and allow for better brushing coverage. If you use mouthwash, do so in between flossing and brushing. Ideally, there should be a small amount of toothpaste in your saliva when you go to bed, which will allow its effects to extend beyond the bathroom.

2. Think twice about teeth whitening.
Just because teeth whitening treatments are widely available doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. One reason to think twice is if you have prosthetic restorations like crowns or veneers. Since restoration materials don’t respond to whitening chemicals the same way your real teeth do, it can result in mismatched coloration. To avoid this and other potential consequences, consult your dentist before using a teeth whitening treatment.


One trick for alleviating discomfort with braces is to use the eraser end of a pencil to reposition a protruding wire. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

3. Alleviate pain from braces.
A common occurrence for those with braces is irritation caused by a loose or sharp wire. If you aren’t able to see your orthodontist right away, there are a couple of ways you can deal with this in the meantime. One is to cover the protruding area with a piece of dental wax. If you’re out of wax, a piece of chewing gum will work. Another technique is to use the eraser end of a pencil to move the wire into a more comfortable position.

4. Rinse after eating.
Some dental tips are so simple, they’re easy to overlook. One is to rinse your mouth with water after eating, a step that combats cavities, bad breath and other issues by keeping bacterial activity in check. With your teeth aligned, start at one corner of your mouth and move the water all the way around to the other side, making sure every area gets covered. For maximum effectiveness, repeat this process a total of three times.

5. Care for your infant’s oral health.
If you’re the parent of an infant, you’ll want to take steps to promote good oral health early. One crucial measure is to give your child water after nursing, particularly at the end of the day. When babies continually go to bed with milk residue on their teeth, it can gradually lead to a form of tooth decay known as “bottle rot.” By rinsing the milk off their teeth after nursing, a small amount of water will help prevent this.

Dental Experts 3

Besides helping patients who have dental phobias, sedation dentistry can benefit those who experience issues like an involuntary gag reflex. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

6. Consider sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry is a growing area of specialization that employs sedative means to help patients with particular issues. For patients who suffer from anxiety about dental work, sedation dentistry can ease fears and make for a worry-free experience. It can also benefit those who experience complications with local anesthesia or an involuntary gag reflex.

For more dental tips and a list of Diamond Certified dental professionals in your area, visit

42 Responses

  1. DoloresB says:

    I think your first tip is good, because most people probably floss last. It would be a good idea to do it first, because then when you brush you can get the good toothpaste in all the hard places. It should help you to avoid cavities.

  2. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing these different tips on taking care of your teeth! It sounds like I should try rinsing after I eat in order to keep the bacteria away. It might also be a good idea for me to floss first since it will help me brush my teeth better. Thanks again for sharing these tips– hopefully they’ll get my teeth to be a lot cleaner!

  3. One of the most delicate situations is that of child dental care, and we have been worrying about this a little bit lately. Since we moved recently, we have no relationship with any local dentists, and have to find new one. We will be starting with word of mouth, but other than that we have no real leads. Luckily, we have already done what you advise here, and started promoting good dental health for our child early on. Thanks for the advice.

  4. Paige Smith says:

    These are all really good tips that I do not think a lot of people think about. For instance, to floss first and brush last, actually was recently explained to me with my last dental visit. I always thought you brushed first and flossed last, but it makes more sense now. Learning about how to take care of your teeth better is so important when it comes to overall wellness.

  5. Callie Marie says:

    I wish that my parents had taken my to a sedation dentist when I was a kid. It hurt really bad when I had gum surgery and my impacted wisdom teeth taken out with no option for sedation. Maybe then I wouldn’t have such anxiety about going to the dentist as an adult.

  6. Thanks for posting this! I liked Dr. Stephen Yao’s remarks about what my child can do to for pain relief that she’s been experiencing from her braces. It seems like a good idea to use either dental wax or chewing gum to cover the loose wire that’s been bothering her. We don’t have any dental wire, so it’s good to know that I can use the gum that I carry around everywhere in the meantime.

  7. Caleb Hart says:

    I had no idea that flossing was so important. I also didn’t know that you should rinse after you eat food. That’s all news to me! Maybe I should start incorporating these tips sooner rather than later.

  8. Natalie Darcy says:

    I have recently been having a lot of dental problems despite my regular dental hygiene routine. I have been wondering what I can change in my routine to make it more effective. Thank you for such a detailed and instructive article, it is nice to hear tips from several dentists. I especially appreciate your tip about flossing first, I didn’t know that this was a better method. Thank you!

  9. Rachelle Reeves says:

    I’ve never thought of flossing first and then brushing after. I’ll make sure to do that from now on. What’s your advice for motivating little kids to floss their teeth?

  10. Charlotte Eddington says:

    Your comments about flossing, then brushing, were interesting. I’ve always done it the other way around. I should ask my dentist more about that. But, it looks like I might be changing up my routine. Thanks for sharing your great tips and advice.

  11. Jessy Shaw says:

    I have been thinking about cosmetic dentistry for a while now. I have tried all of those home remedies for teeth whitening but none have really given me the result that I want. Plus I don’t really know how safe they are on my teeth. I think that having a dentist perform the procedure is definitely the way to go because you know that your teeth won’t be harmed in the process. I found this information really helpful, thank you for sharing.

  12. Meg Lund says:

    My daughter has braces, and one of her wires came loose. We have bought her some wax, but it doesn’t seem to help very well. Thus, the suggestion you gave to use a pencil eraser to move the wire into a more comfortable position is a really great idea! We will have to try this to see if we can’t help relieve the irritation while we wait for her next orthodontist appointment. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Kyle Ross says:

    I’ve always flossed after I brush, so I appreciate your tip to reverse the two. I didn’t realize it would be more beneficial, but now that you point it out, it makes sense. I will definitely be flossing first from now on!

  14. Olivia Sherwin says:

    These are some great tips, and I love your advice to rinse after every meal. I didn’t realize something so simple could be such a help! It’s such an easy thing to do, I’ll certainly rinse after I eat. Thanks for the great post!

  15. Douglas Brown says:

    I have heard that sedation dentistry have been growing a lot lately, and I am doing research to see if it is something that my wife and I will want to do. My wife does have “particular issues” with dentist visits, and sedation may be a good way to remedy some of the situations. Pretty much just let her know that it will be a “worry-free” experience and she will instantly be on board!

  16. DoloresB says:

    I like your dental tip to rinse after eating. It’s a good idea to just do a quick rinse after a meal, because then you can help combat cavities. Cavities really are the worst, so I think any tip to help avoid them is great.

  17. Jason Scott says:

    I never realized that flossing before brushing could help you get a better clean. I knew that you wanted some toothpaste in your saliva when you go to bed though. I will make sure to floss before I brush now! Thanks for the great tips!!

  18. Jake White says:

    My wife and I are trying to figure out how effective different teeth whitening products are. However, it sounds like we need to be careful, due to the fact that I have a crown right in the middle of my front teeth on lower level of my mouth. I wouldn’t want any kind of discoloration with that, so I guess I better hold off until I can talk with my dentist. Thanks for sharing this information!

  19. James Bay says:

    I have been trying to take better care of my teeth. I had no idea that it’s a good idea to brush after flossing. I will need to try that. Thank you for your help.

  20. Veronica Marks says:

    It’s good to know that crowns and veneers don’t really respond to whitening treatments. I wouldn’t have known that! I don’t have any of those on my more visible teeth, but I do have a filling on the front of one of my front teeth that is not currently visible, and had a root canal done on another fairly visible tooth. Would those make me a poor candidate for whitening?

  21. Lauren Woodley says:

    My daughter just got braces put on, and she has been feeling some irregular pain. That being said, the tips you give on how to alleviate pain from braces was really helpful. Specifically, you talk about how a common occurrence for pain is that a loose or sharp wire is poking into the gums. I will definitely have my daughter inspect her braces and make sure that this isn’t the case. Thank you for sharing!

  22. Dean says:

    Great tips provided here. Staying on top of your own personal oral health is important. These tips do a great job showcasing how to go about that. The tip I like is: “Rinse after eating”. Just doing this simple step goes a long way towards keeping your oral health intact. Thanks so much for providing this useful resource!

  23. Steve Holt says:

    Dr. Stephen Yao’s tip for alleviating pain from braces could really help my son. He’s been feeling a lot of discomfort after they were put on last week. I suppose he might have a loose or sharp wire. Using dental wax or gum to cover the area seems like a good way to deal with this problem. Thanks for the tips!

  24. Bryce Trout says:

    I really liked your tip about flossing. Every time I go to the dentist he tells me that I need to do a better job flossing, but I am awful about it. Hopefully flossing before I brush will help me develop a better habit. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Sam Fisher says:

    I had always thought that you would brush first and then floss last. It seems that I have been doing it wrong all my life. It does make sense that when you floss, you are removing particles from between your teeth where the toothbrush might not get to. Plus, after you floss, there will be some particles that are now on your teeth instead of between then.

  26. Michael Lee says:

    I agree that sedation is a good idea for some people, I like that this was addressed by the author. In my experience if somebody is too afraid, or if a child is too wiggly, sedation could be a good idea. My thanks to the author for taking the time to get this information out there!

  27. Callie Marie says:

    Your tip about considering crowns and veneers when getting your teeth whitened is really smart. I have a couple fillings on the front of my teeth, so it would be really obvious if I had my teeth whitened too much. However, since the fillings don’t turn yellow like my teeth, they are now lighter. I’m planning on having a dentist match the color to my fillings as soon as I can.

  28. Steven Harrison says:

    Thanks for your second tip. I was considering teeth whitening chemicals until I read it. It won’t be a great combo with my crown. I’ll avoid mismatched coloration if I can help it.

  29. Daniela Adams says:

    I never knew the right order of using mouthwash, flossing and brushing! I always do it in random order, or whatever I have time for at the moment. Thanks for your very helpful tips, I will definitely keep them in mind and practice. I want to improve my oral health, and I am going to a dentist next week!

  30. Eliza Cranston says:

    These are some great tips from dentists! I wasn’t aware that teeth whitening could discolor veneers, so I’ll be careful of that. I also need to be much better about flossing and rinsing. I’ll make these my new health goals!

  31. Nora Moore says:

    You should floss before you brush? I’ve been doing that backwards my whole life. I’ll have to switch that around. That way I’ll take better care of my teeth before I start whitening. Since I don’t have crowns or veneers yet, the whitening shouldn’t give me too many problems. I’ll still talk to a dentist first though.

  32. Jordan Jorgenson says:

    Thanks for your tips. I didn’t know that rinsing after eating could help keep my teeth healthier. It makes sense that it would since it washes off any acidic residue. Does it matter what I rinse with? Could I rinse with mouthwash with the same affect.

  33. Brandon Roberts says:

    I never would have thought that it was important to floss first, then brush after. But after reading that when you floss first, and brush after, the toothbrush will pick up the excess stuff the flossing left. It makes perfect sense, and I’m going to start doing this right away. Thanks a ton for sharing this with me.

  34. Breck Lewis says:

    I had no idea that you had to floss first and then you brush your teeth. I agree that majority of people forget to floss their teeth period. I went to the dentist the other day and he reminded me again to floss. I was wondering if mouth rinse did the same thing as flossing?

  35. Nash Rich says:

    I’ve always flossed second. To think I’ve been doing it wrong all of these years. I guess it does make sense after reading this. I’m really good at my brushing habit, but not so good at my flossing. Maybe this will make me a better flosser!

  36. Jeff Madison says:

    I liked your tip on flossing first and brushing last. I never knew that it could be more effective to floss before you brush because it gets rid of food particles between your teeth. I imagine another thing that would be beneficial to your teeth would be regular dental visits in addition to flossing before you brush.

  37. Tara Allen says:

    Regular visits with the dentist, I would agree is a good way to keep up on your oral hygiene. I like your tip about being sure to floss daily. I am glad that you mentioned tips about caring for your infants oral hygiene as well.

  38. David Hawkins says:

    That’s really interesting that you should rinse after every meal. I’ve heard some dentist say you should brush after every meal, bu that just isn’t possible with my schedule. Rinsing is something that I can easily do and it can hold me over until I can brush at night. Thanks for the really cool tips and information!

  39. Braden Bills says:

    These are some really nice tips for dental health. I’ll make sure that I floss first and brush last. I always thought that it was the other way around! I didn’t know it would do a better job at cleaning. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Luke Smith says:

    I have always brushed before flossing, and I always thought that was the correct way to do it! I guess it makes sense that brushing should be the last step to maximize effectiveness though. I will have to make a change in my routine. I’m looking for a new dentist right now anyways, maybe this will be a chance to make a great first impression!

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