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Best practices for oral hygiene include brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes, and flossing once daily. But what about the proper technique to brush? Too many of us assume that a tough-bristled toothbrush and lots of abrasive toothpaste to scour the plaque off our teeth are the appropriate route. Right?

Wrong. In fact, it could be argued that the opposite is true: a soft brush and a little toothpaste are much better for your mouth. The tools you use make a difference in your smile, and using the wrong ones can do a lot of damage. Let’s review the basics of toothbrushes and toothpastes you could choose.

First, buy a very soft bristled toothbrush and replace it every three to four months. Medium- to hard-bristled brushes will scrape and damage your enamel, which can open your teeth and gums up to infection and decay. Use gentle pressure when brushing–think “massage” more than “scrub.” Brush for two minutes each session. Repeat twice a day.

Now, on to toothpaste. There are many things to consider as you decide on the toothpaste you will use. Here are a couple of options:

Fluoride: If you struggle with frequent tooth sensitivity or tooth decay, a fluoride toothpaste may be an excellent choice. It can help fortify tooth enamel and reduce your risk of sensitivity and decay.

Whitening Toothpaste: A whitening toothpaste can be beneficial to reduce surface stains. It is most efficient at maintaining tooth color after a professional whitening treatment takes place. If you have stained or discolored teeth, schedule a teeth whitening appointment with your dentist.

For more information, call George R. Hussey, DDS, FAGD in Arlington, Washington, at 360.653.5197. Drs. Hussey and Larson are happy to recommend tools for at-home dental hygiene.