Practicing good oral hygiene at home is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. The New York State Dental Association believes preventative care is the foundation of avoiding oral health problems. Simple care taken at home can help keep your mouth healthy and your smile bright between visits to your dentist.

Tips for Home to Make Dentist Visits Easier

  • Brush your teeth for 2 minutes, 2 times a day with a soft toothbrush
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and when the bristles are frayed
  • Use an “ADA Accepted” fluoride toothpaste
  • Always wear a protective mouthguard when playing sports

Brush Right, Smile Bright

  • Place your soft toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums
  • Move the brush back and forth gently, in wide strokes
  • Be sure to brush the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth
  • Brush your tongue to remove bad breath-causing bacteria

Dental Emergency Tips

  • Knocked out tooth? Retrieve the tooth and hold it by the crown (top). Gently rinse the root of the tooth if it is dirty. Do not scrub or remove any tissue or fragments. If possible, carefully attempt to put the tooth back in its socket. If replacing the tooth isn’t possible, put it in a container with milk or water and get to the dentist as soon as possible.
  • Broken tooth? Rinse your mouth with warm water and keep the area clean. Use cold compresses on the area to keep the swelling down and get to your dentist’s office as quickly as possible.
  • Bitten tongue or lip? Clean the area gently and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If there is persistent bleeding, go to a hospital’s emergency room quickly.
  • Something caught between your teeth? Try to gently remove the object with dental floss and avoid cutting your gums. Do not use a sharp instrument of any kind to attempt removal. If you can’t get it out, see a dentist as soon as possible.
  • Toothache? Rinse your mouth with warm water. Make sure food or foreign objects are not lodged around the tooth by using dental floss. Do NOT put aspirin or any painkiller on the gums or around the aching tooth. It can cause a burn in your mouth and do more damage than good.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers community water fluoridation one of the 10 Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century. It began in 1945 and has proven to be a safe and cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral found in nearly all naturally occurring water sources. It has been shown to prevent and even reverse tooth decay in communities.

For several decades, the American Dental Association has continuously endorsed community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride-containing products as safe and effective. These are excellent protective measures for preventing tooth decay.

The ADA advocates for public health with the study and recommendation of fluoride. Learn more about fluoridation studies, facts and policies.

Oral Health and Pregnancy

Maintaining you oral health during your pregnancy is crucial. Research continues to suggest that there may be a relation between gum disease and pre-term birth and/or low birth weight. Other studies reveal women with gum disease may also be more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Continue your regular dental visits during your pregnancy, and be sure talk with your dentist for personalized suggestions. Certain rising hormone levels and plaque buildup can irritate gums and cause pain. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleaning during the second or third trimester to help control gum inflammation or gingivitis.

Following pregnancy, oral health is very important because mothers and fathers can pass bacteria from their mouth to the child’s when sharing food, utensils or kisses. Clean mouths are important to babies with weak immune systems.

For more on oral health during and after pregnancy, as well as information on oral health for children and adults of all ages, visit

Using Products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Dentists and consumers have long recognized the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance as an important symbol of a dental product's safety and effectiveness. For more than 125 years, the ADA has sought to promote the safety and effectiveness of dental products.

The first Seal of Acceptance was awarded in 1931. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan gave the Association a certificate of commendation for the outstanding self-regulatory efforts of its Seal program.

Although it is strictly voluntary, about 400 companies participate in the Seal program. Participating manufacturers commit significant resources to evaluate, test and market products in the Seal program. Some 1,300 dental products carry the Seal of Acceptance. Of these, about 45 percent are products sold to consumers, such as toothpaste, dental floss, manual and electric toothbrushes and mouthrinses. The rest are products prescribed or used by dentists, such as antibiotics or dental restorative materials.