1. Use an electric toothbrush

At more than 30,000 strokes per minute compared to the average of 100 strokes per minute with a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes work harder by pushing fluid between teeth and around the gum line, which provides a more effective cleaning.

Dr. Kellee Kattleman Stanton, a Minnesota cosmetic dentist and sustaining member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) says, “Regardless of whether or not you have cavities, using an electric toothbrush over time prevents gum inflammation, gingivitis and periodontal disease.”

2. Floss at night

The CDC reports that nearly 65 million Americans—one out every two adults ages 30 and older—have gum disease. Therefore, flossing once a day is crucial to avoid plaque and tartar, a hard mineral deposit that can cause gums to become swollen and inflamed, leading to gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.

“During sleep cycles, less saliva is produced to naturally clean teeth and gums, so oral bacteria are free to do more damage."

“My recommendation is to floss at night,” says Ronald M. Goodlin, DDS, President, AACD. “During sleep cycles, less saliva is produced to naturally clean teeth and gums, so oral bacteria are free to do more damage. Therefore, it’s important to brush, floss and scrape your tongue every night to get rid of bacteria and go to bed with your mouth as clean as possible.”

3. Select the right toothpaste

Dr. Jack Ringer, president elect of AACD who practices cosmetic dentistry in Anaheim, Calif., cautions his patients to be skeptical of any toothpaste that promises to "whiten" teeth.

The reality is that removal of surface stains by a toothpaste will make the tooth "look" lighter, but not change its inherent color. To lighten or "bleach" teeth, schedule a professional in-office whitening treatment, or use over-the-counter name brand bleaching products that work on the internal aspect of the tooth, not just the external aspect as a toothpaste does.