Billions of bacteria are living in our mouths at any given time. Buildup of this bacteria will cause plaque, cavities, gingivitis, or gum disease. Good oral hygiene is imperative for a healthy mouth and smile.

You should be brushing after every meal and before bedtime, as well as using antibacterial mouthwash and flossing at least once daily. Flossing helps prevent gum disease, as well as cavities. A healthy diet, low in sugar and starch, also helps control the bacteria in your mouth.

The size and shape of your toothbrush should allow you to reach all tooth surfaces easily and fit comfortably in your mouth. The International Dental Association states that most adults’ toothbrushes need to be small or medium size.

You should throw away your toothbrush and get a new one every six months. If you are getting your teeth cleaned at the recommended six-month interval, your dentist is giving you a new toothbrush just for this purpose. You will also get some dental floss, a small tube of toothpaste (great for packing in your suitcase, by the way), and a small sample of antibacterial mouthwash.

Adding an antibacterial mouthwash to your daily regimen helps remove debris from your mouth that can irritate your gumline and cause gingivitis. It gets into places that your toothbrush and floss can’t reach and adds better bad breath protection.