One of the most common dream themes is losing your teeth. We want to help you avoid this real-life nightmare. You know the basics—brushing flossing, seeing your dentist. But we have some more detailed steps that will ensure your smile is healthy and beautiful.Take TwoTwo minutes is all you need to spend brushing your teeth to adequately clean away plaque. Use a soft brush and rub the bristles toward the upper gums, so you can get to the actual cusps. Change your brush every two months. Sonic brushes have great plaque-fighting abilities. Many cultures believe that massaging your gums with your fingers helps prevent periodontal disease.Sonic brushes produce over 30,000 brushstrokes per minute (compared to the 5,000 of typical electric ones). They spray into crevices to clean where bristles can’t. To use one, follow these steps:

  • Wet the bristles and apply a small amount of toothpaste.
  • Place the bristles at a slight angle toward the gum line. Power up.
  • Apply slight pressure, but let the brush do most of the work.
  • Gently brush the head slowly across the teeth in back-and-forth motions, so the longer bristles reach between your teeth.
  • Do the outside top teeth, inside top, outside bottom and inside bottom each for 30 seconds. Move to the chewing surfaces and anywhere else with stains. Briefly brush your tongue to combat bad breath.

Get Between the CracksWhen you don’t floss, you’re not cleaning 40 percent of your teeth. And still, 80 percent of people don’t floss. Dentists even consider flossing more crucial for preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease. You’ve got to know how to do it though!Here’s the right way: The floss should barely pass between each tooth and should gently touch the gums. Try the thicker or waxed varieties. If your floss breaks, you may want to have your dentist file down the “contact points” between your teeth. What not to do: Jam it between teeth, which causes gums to bleed.WATCH VIDEO: Why Cavities FormThink About Your Own AlignmentYou can improve your jaw health and reduce teeth problems by thinking more about your mouth. Here are some adjustments you can make to your alignment…

  • Only touch your teeth together when you eat. Keeping your tongue between your teeth will prevent clenching (and the grinding and aching associated with stress).
  • Stand tall. Improved posture will better your back, strengthen core muscles and make you look thinner… And it will also naturally correct your jaw alignment!

Use ToolsChoose scissors, bottle openers and knives next time you need to rip into a tightly wrapped plastic package. It’s not worth sacrificing your teeth.Employ Anti-staining TechniquesCertain foods will definitely stain your teeth: Think blueberries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. The drinks? Red wine, coffee, tea, grape and cranberry juice. By all means, keep eating these foods, just employ these techniques…

  • Keep a glass of water handy so you can sip and wash away remnants quickly.
  • Never skip a bedtime to brush. Try to brush as soon as possible after a staining meal (travel toothbrush!).
  • Some foods can actually whiten your teeth. Celery, carrots and apples are natural stain removers. Other foods create a film over your teeth, which acts as a barrier against staining. Try greens like broccoli, lettuce and spinach.

QUIZ: Are You Eating for Beauty?Check It OutYou can test the health of your gums on your own, in some ways. Here are some signs you should see a dentist: bleeding, itching, bad breath and increased space between the teeth. You should see the dentist every six months (four, if you have gum problems). No matter how much you floss and brush, you can’t get all the gum-destroying plaque that’s deposited near your gums and between your teeth. Early detection of gingivitis will make it easier to treat.WATCH VIDEO: A Review of HalitosisWatch Your LipsYou should protect your lips with sunblock. If they get sun damage, they’ll wrinkle and you’re even susceptible to lip cancers, especially on the lower lip. This is where we get more sun exposure. Use lip gloss or balm during the day with SPF 15 or higher.Keep Plumping In CheckOver the last decade, women have grown to think bigger is better when it comes to their lips. They’ve used silicone, collagen, fat, their own dermis (skin), hyaluronic acid and Gore-Tex to plump them up. Stay away from plastic implants—they don’t seem to do well over time.MORE: What Makes a Mouth Beautiful?