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7 Tips to Get You in the Habit of Brushing Your Teeth

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a woman looks at herself in the mirror while brushing her teeth

Motivating Toothbrushing

While dental exams and cleanings are essential to oral health care, your at-home oral hygiene also plays a significant role. Brushing, flossing, nutrition, and oral habits can keep your smile healthy and prevent dental emergencies.

But brushing your teeth can be a chore. It can be challenging to build good oral habits when you have a packed schedule or are too tired at bedtime. So what can you do to motivate better at-home oral care? Here are 7 tips to get you in the habit of brushing your teeth.

Why Brushing Your Teeth Matters

You know brushing can clean your teeth, but that’s only the beginning of the benefits. Brushing your teeth removes bacteria and dental plaque. Over time, plaque hardens into dental tartar or calculus, creating yellowish stains on teeth. Tartar erodes the tooth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Brushing your teeth is also helpful for freshening your breath. Bad breath is typically the result of the food you eat or the medications you take. However, poor oral hygiene can lead to persistent bad breath. 

It’s also crucial to clean your tongue, as bacteria ad plaque can collect on the surface. Although some patients find tongue scrapers effective, a classic toothbrush can also work.

Brushing your teeth can protect your oral health and overall health. It can also help the appearance of your teeth and the smell of your breath so that you can feel confident about your smile.

Tip 1: Set a Reminder

Organizing your schedule, or triggering your memory, can be easier when you set an alarm. You may set a reminder on your phone, smartwatch, or even a classic alarm clock. Then, whatever device you find most handy, prioritize bedtime brushing.

Recommendations for how often you should brush vary, but typically dentists recommend twice daily—but brushing after every meal offers the most benefits for oral health. However, if you’re struggling to brush multiple times a day, brushing at bedtime—after your last meal or snack—helps ensure you don’t leave any food debris overnight.

Tip 2: Bundle Activities

If you forget to brush your teeth consistently, it may be because you’re doing the task alone. Consider other daily tasks, like brushing your hair, washing your face, or taking a shower. 

For example, suppose you brush your hair every morning. Now, you’ll decide that you’ll first brush your hair, then brush your teeth. Or, maybe you want to brush your teeth before washing your face, so any toothpaste smudges are washed away afterwards. You may even say the order out loud or create a list to post on your bathroom mirror.

Tip 3: Place a Bet

Money can be a powerful motivator. So instead of a swear jar, create a toothbrush jar. When you remember to brush your teeth, reward your success by adding a predetermined monetary amount to your jar. However, there’s a part 2 that raises the stakes. Every time you forget to brush, you have to donate the money you’ve collected to charity.

You can set the bet time to whatever works best for you, such as one month or 6 months. You can also add rules. For example, you may decide you need 3 strikes before donating to charity. Or maybe brushing your teeth consistently after a miss means you regain the money. Decide on rules that motivate you.

Tip 4: Brushing Buddies

a man, woman, and child brush their teeth together in a bathroom

The buddy system can help motivate many healthy habits. For example, you’ve probably heard of a workout buddy and the same works for oral hygiene! If you live with a family member, spouse, or partner, brush your teeth together. 

When someone expects you, you’re more likely to show up and complete the task consistently. They can also encourage you when you succeed.

Tip 5: Make it Fun

If brushing your tooth is a chore, turn it into something you look forward to doing. Maybe you choose a funky toothbrush, buy great-tasting toothpaste, or play music. Perhaps it’s your time to combine toothbrushing with a fun activity, like catching up on messaging friends or reading an article.

Tip 6: Record Your Journey

Sometimes having evidence can help you stick to your routine. For example, maybe you write down every time you brush, take a photo for your favourite social media platform, or text your success to a friend. If you enjoy journaling, consider completing an entry about when and why to learn more about what works best to motivate yourself.

Tip 7: Visit Your Dentist

You can learn a lot about your dental health when you visit your dentist for a dental exam or routine cleaning. Pay attention to how many spots your dentist puts on their watch list because your daily brushing can reduce the risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

Needing a filling, crown, or other dental work can also be a significant motivator to develop better oral habits. Having healthy teeth and gums can save you time and money. So the next time you skip brushing your teeth, remind yourself about any previous dental work or watch spots.

Talk to Your Dentist

Talk to your dentist about your brushing troubles! Your dentist wants to encourage healthy oral habits so that you can feel confident about your smile. So when you’re struggling with brushing or floss, your dentist may have some tips that can help.

Our team at Maplebrook Dental can support your dental care. Visit us for regular dental exams and discuss your dental concerns. We care about your dental care. Book an appointment with us today!

Written by Fotini Molnar

Dr. Fotini Molnar started her dental experience working as a dental assistant in a co-op program during high school. She went on to complete her Bachelor of Science, majoring in biotechnology at York University and then obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to her career in dentistry, Dr. Molnar researched neuroblastoma at Sick Kids Hospital.
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