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6 Tips for Your Biggest Dental Hygiene Questions

Seek no more! We’ve got the answers to your biggest questions about brushing, flossing, cleaning your aligners, and improving your overall dental hygiene.

1. What’s the right way to brush?

This might seem obvious, but brushing correctly makes a world of difference in keeping your mouth healthy. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently brushing back and forth in short strokes for 2 minutes. Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and spots where you chew. Tilt your brush slightly to brush the inside of your front teeth. Finish by brushing your tongue to keep your breath fresh.

Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, especially in the morning and again at night before bed.

2. Do I really need to floss?

Yes! Experts still agree flossing is beneficial, and you should clean between your teeth. We recommend flossing at least once every day.

3. Should I use mouthwash?

While not a necessity, we love a good mouthwash to freshen breath and help reach in-between spaces floss might miss. Some mouth rinses can also help prevent or control tooth decay, reduce plaque, and prevent gingivitis. A colored mouthwash might affect your aligners or whitened teeth, so pick a clear or whitening one instead. Find a list of ADA-approved mouth rinses here.

4. How should I store my toothbrush?

We’ve been storing our toothbrushes in travel cases for years, but according to the ADA, that’s actually one of the worst places to keep them.

“A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.”

Instead, store your toothbrush upright (separate from your family members’ or roommates’ toothbrushes) and give it a chance to dry before you use it again.

5. How often do I need to replace my toothbrush?

You’ll want to use a new toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and more often if you’ve been sick. The more worn-down and frayed the bristles are, the less effective your brush will be at controlling plaque, according to a study from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

6. How do I clean my aligners?

When you’re wearing your aligners almost 24/7, they’re bound to need a little TLC once in a while. We recommend cleaning them every few days to keep them (and your breath) fresh. We like to soak them in a mixture of vinegar and water, or hydrogen peroxide and water. There are a few other at-home remedies that work well for cleaning your aligners and retainers. Remember to brush your teeth after eating and before popping your aligners back in. Never use bleach, alcohol, or other harsh cleaning agents. Skip the boiling water, too, which can warp your aligners.

More than half of SmileDirectClub customers report improved dental hygiene after wearing their invisible aligners compared to before they started.

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