oral hygiene hacks

When it comes to oral hygiene, brushing and flossing are the just tip of the iceberg. Photo: Richmond Neighborhood Family Dental (2015)

From early childhood, the merits of a daily oral hygiene routine are so thoroughly ingrained in our minds that, for most of us, they’ve practically become second nature. However, while brushing and flossing remain the major pillars of this practice, few people are aware that there are many additional ways to supplement these standard steps. Read on to learn about eight oral hygiene hacks for a healthier mouth.

1. Rinse with water immediately following a meal. When food particles remain in the mouth, oral bacteria acts upon them to produce acids, which is the root cause of problems like cavities and gum disease. Rinsing with water directly after eating will help remove food residue and prevent bacterial growth. To maximize the effectiveness of rinsing, repeat three times and swish thoroughly to ensure contact with all of your teeth.

2. Use hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash. While name-brand mouthwash products boast advantageous attributes like teeth whitening, you can derive similar benefits from a simple household product: hydrogen peroxide. Since it’s often used as both a bleaching agent and a disinfectant, it makes sense that hydrogen peroxide is also an effective mouthwash, as it disinfects the mouth and naturally whitens the teeth.

3. Incorporate oral probiotics. Many people have a negative perception of oral bacteria, but there are beneficial bacteria that inhabit the mouth as well. By increasing the presence of good bacteria, supplemental oral probiotics help combat the effects of bad breath and gum disease.

4. Break up your flossing routine. If you lack the patience to develop a steady flossing routine, Dr. Judy L. Husen offers a helpful trick: “Floss half of your teeth in the morning and the other half at night. This makes flossing seem less time-intensive and ensures all teeth get flossed within a 24-hour period.”

5. Clean your tongue. In addition to cleaning your teeth, use a toothbrush or tongue scraper to clean your tongue—it’ll remove bacterial buildup that contributes to bad breath.

6. Wait to brush after consuming acidic beverages. When you drink an acidic beverage such as juice or soda, it lowers the pH in your mouth, making it more acidic and leaving your tooth enamel more susceptible to being removed during brushing. For this reason, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking an acidic beverage before brushing.

7. Avoid whitening toothpastes. While there are numerous ways to whiten your teeth, you shouldn’t rely on your toothpaste to do it. According to Dr. William M. Schneider, the abrasive nature of whitening toothpastes may contribute to enamel loss and tooth sensitivity.

8. Use xylitol. A natural sweetener used for years as a sugar substitute, xylitol has recently been shown to provide a unique dental health benefit. By neutralizing pH levels in the mouth, it can both reduce the risk of enamel damage from oral acids and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Available in a variety of forms (including chewing gum and mouthwash), xylitol is an easy way to augment your daily dental hygiene routine.

To find a Diamond Certified dental professional in your area, visit www.diamondcertified.org.

Learn more:

How to Prevent Gum Recession
The Hazards of Over-Brushing
Choosing the Right Type of Dental Floss

20 Responses

  1. This is awesome advice, and they’re easy to do. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after acidic foods, but is it also true that it helps to swish with water afterward? I’ll also have to look up what brands have xylitol in them, since I already use sugar substitutes, I might as well switch to it. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Brandon Roberts says:

    I was talking to my family, and I wanted to start making sure everyone was cleaning their teeth the right way. To be honest, I have already had a bad time with brushing my tongue. I just never have liked doing it. But, I didn’t know that your tongue is one of the primary reasons for bad breath. I will make sure I talk to my family right away, so that we can start doing this. Thanks a ton for the help.

  3. Jane Fox says:

    I really like the idea of rinsing. I keep a toothbrush at work so I can brush after lunch, but sometimes I just don’t have time. I think a quick rinse would be completely doable, though! Hopefully as I do this my dentist will see an improvement in my teeth. Thanks for the great tip!

  4. Deanna R. Jones says:

    Thanks for the tips! My teeth could be cleaner, so I should probably be doing more for my teeth than just brush them before I go to bed. Using toothpastes other than whitening toothpaste seems like an interesting tip. I’ve always thought that they were meant to not only whiten my teeth, but make them more healthy. Now that I know that they can cause my teeth to be sensitive, I should probably use other toothpastes that will clean my teeth without the abrasive nature of whitening toothpastes.

  5. Lily de Grey says:

    Excellent article, James! I’m glad that I stumbled upon it because I’ve been looking for different ways I can brush my teeth better. I didn’t know that you’re supposed to brush your teeth after consuming acidic beverages, so I’ll be sure to follow your recommendation to do so. Hopefully I’ll be back to a whiter and brighter smile! Thanks for sharing these tips with us; they’ve been very helpful!

  6. Jessy Shaw says:

    I really enjoyed reading all of these tips! I am really passionate about my teeth and am always looking for new ways to improve my oral hygiene. Rinsing your mouth about with water after a meal is a great tip because it can get rid of the lingering food. Consulting with a general dentist about other methods is a great idea as well, thank you for sharing!

  7. Jason Scott says:

    These are all great tips on keeping your mouth clean and healthy. I never thought that probiotics could be beneficial to oral health. I will keep these tips in mind. Where would you find oral probiotics?

  8. Lauren Woodley says:

    All of these tips you give to have quality dental hygiene were really helpful, but the second one you suggest really stuck out to me. I had no idea that you can use hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash, however, you suggest that it derives similar benefits and results as any name-brand mouthwash. Plus, I think that this could be a more practical and cheaper product to use because you usually already have it in your home. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Cohen Jacobson says:

    Hey I really appreciate the great dental hygiene advice. I’ve also been hearing a lot about using coconut oil and charcoal for teeth whitening. Is there any merit to those practices? I haven’t tried them yet and I want to make sure I know what I’m getting into. Thanks again!

  10. Ian Johanson says:

    I just got back from a teeth cleaning. As usual I was told that I need to brush better and floss. So, thanks for your tips to help me keep my teeth healthy. I especially liked the idea of taking oral probiotics. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

  11. Jake White says:

    My wife and I looking for ways to help our kids practice better oral habits because it seems like every time we go to the dentist that they have cavities. I had never heard of using hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash, but it definitely seems worth a shot. I also liked the tip to break up your flossing routine, as this is something that I have personally found beneficial. Thanks for sharing this article with me!

  12. Rob Benton says:

    I’m glad to know that its good to rinse your mouth out with water right after a meal. That is something that I naturally have started doing after every time I eat something. People sometimes look at me funny, but I do it anyway because I want to take good care of my teeth. I was doing it more to get rid of things in between my teeth for appearance sake, but its good to know that it also helps to prevent bacterial growth.

  13. Vicky Durrant says:

    Taking care of my smile is very important to me, so I’m happy that I found your post! I really liked all of your tips, especially your tip to wait at least 30 minutes to brush my teeth after I drink soda. I had no idea that drinking soda softened the enamel on my teeth, which make it easier for a toothbrush to remove! From now on, I’ll be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking soda before I brush my teeth. Thank you for the advice!

  14. Aria Wellington says:

    I really love your tip about cleaning your tongue! A lot of people will brush their tongue but won’t really do the best job cleaning it. Flossing also can help keep your tongue clean because it keeps your overall mouth clean! Making sure that you get the areas of your mouth that your toothbrush can’t get will definitely make trips to the dentist easier!

  15. Judy Wilson says:

    Cleaning my tongue is an interesting oral health tip. I didn’t realize how much bacteria buildup on my tongue can affect my breath. I should get a tongue scraper to help improve my breath and help my mouth feel a little cleaner after I brush and floss.

  16. James Bergman says:

    I like that hydrogen peroxide can help whiten my teeth, but I am a little scared to use it as a mouthwash. I know that it will be fine, but I have only ever used it on cuts and it is hard to put something like that in my mouth. Are there mouthwashes out there that I can buy that have hydrogen peroxide in them?

  17. John Carston says:

    I didn’t know that hydrogen peroxide could be used as a teeth whitener but it makes sense. It’s good to know that acidic beverages could cause teeth wear so I’ll need to wait to brush, like you recommended. Thanks for the helpful dental tips.

  18. Kenneth Gladman says:

    I didn’t realize that about drinking acidic beverages. I like to drink orange juice at nights and I will have to remember to wait before brushing, I didn’t think it would remove enamel. I think getting the vitamin C is important, but you want to make sure you are keeping your teeth safe. Thanks for the tips.

  19. Kenneth Gladman says:

    I like that you mentioned the importance of cleaning your tongue. I think this is the most overlooked aspect of oral health. It can take some time to get used to, but can help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

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