1. Get your teeth professionally cleaned.
When it comes to spring cleaning your home, you can do it yourself or hire a professional if you don't have the time. But when it comes to cleaning your teeth thoroughly, seeing a professional is a necessity. We're not saying brushing and flossing aren't essential - but it's only part of the equation. To get rid of the guck (aka plaque and tartar) that's built up on your teeth, you'll have to rely on the experts to do that. While some dentists do teeth cleanings themselves, they often turn to their dental hygienists to handle the job.
Depending how often (or infrequently) you go to the dentist, your dentist may recommend one of the following types of teeth cleanings:
Regular Cleaning - Also called a "prophylaxis," a regular teeth cleaning is a preventive procedure usually recommended for patients who have minimal plaque, tartar and debris buildup as well as healthy gums (good in color and texture along with "shallow" pockets). This is the kind of teeth cleaning you should get at least once every six months.
Deep Cleaning - If it's been awhile since you've seen the dentist, you may have plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line, bleeding gums and/or deep gum pockets. These are signs of gum disease and typically require a more intensive teeth cleaning - technically called a scaling and root planing (SRP) but usually referred to as a deep cleaning. This type of cleaning typically requires numbing.
Periodontal Maintenance - Once you've been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend periodontal maintenance treatments after a deep cleaning or other forms of gum disease treatment. Maintenance usually involves scaling and planing in problem areas along with tooth polishing. Without follow-up treatment, periodontal disease can -- and usually does -- resurface.
2. Change your toothbrush.
After using a toothbrush for about three months, the bristles become frayed and flattened -- telltale signs that it's time to get a new one. In fact, most dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, if not sooner, depending on how soft or hard you brush. Also consider getting a toothbrush sanitizer like Zapi, which may kill up to 99 percent of toothbrush bacteria. Keep in mind that even if you invest in a sanitizer, you should still change your toothbrush every three months.