Many people have no idea how critical it is to have a healthy mouth. If you slack off on brushing and flossing, you'll not only have a grungy set of choppers and possibly nasty breath, but you can have all sorts of health problems. And we're not talking simple gum disease and tooth loss, but serious stuff like heart disease and pancreatic cancer [sources: Medical News Today, Treatment of Gingivitis].
Luckily, it's pretty easy to maintain good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends you:
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
- Floss daily.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- See your dentist regularly.
In addition, dentists often recommend you brush your tongue and gums. Brushing the tongue helps remove bacteria and freshen your breath, while gently brushing your gums stimulates them to keep them healthy [sources: Earthority, Mother Nature]. The brushing also helps get rid of old cells -- it's basically exfoliating your skin [source: Sherman]. If you don't like to brush your gums, or if it's painful, you can also use your fingers to massage them. Grab your gums between your thumb and index finger -- placing your thumb on the inside of your gums and your index finger on the outside -- then rub [source: Mother Nature].
We've told you how to brush your gums; on the next page, learn about the gum brush itself.