How to Sing Your Way to a Healthy Smile

by | Apr 13, 2011 03:51 PM ET

We're living in a pretty teeth-obsessed world right now. It's practically impossible to read a magazine, visit a Web site or watch TV without hearing about the latest, greatest way to brighten your pearly whites. Given our enamored state regarding the shade of our enamel, it's probably surprising to note that although our smiles look pretty, they might not be all that healthy. Well, a song could solve that problem.

Most folks brush their teeth at least twice a day. According to the ADA, that's a good thing. But for many of us, the good news ends there. It turns out a lot of people are doing a few things wrong while they're actually doing the brushing. One of the biggest mistakes is brushing too quickly, which is why many dentists working with young children will advise their patients to think of a song as they're brushing. This is good advice no matter how old you are. So, to make sure you're getting in enough time at the sink, you want to pick out a song that's somewhere around two minutes long. Here are a couple of suggestions courtesy of two playlists -- one belonging to a 4-year-old I know and one of mine (see if you can guess who picked which songs):

  • "Banana Split for My Baby" by Louis Prima and Keely Smith (2:30)
  • "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" by Ella Fitzgerald (2:58)
  • "Kick Drum Heart" by the Avett Brothers (2:54)
  • "Them There Eyes" by Billie Holiday (2:51)
  • "Santa Baby" by Madonna (true, the Eartha Kitt versions are better but the Madonna one is shortest at 2:35)
  • "Slight Figure of Speech" by the Avett Brothers (2:22)
  • And a whole lot of songs by the Ramones

If you don't know or don't like the songs above and you're having trouble coming up with a song, there are ways to ensure proper timing -- toothbrushes with timers and old-school sand-style toothbrush timers.

So what are the other things many folks do wrong while brushing? Two big problems are applying too much pressure and using too much toothpaste. If the bristles on your brush are spread out, smashed down and altogether wonky, lighten up. And as for the proper amount of paste -- a pea-sized dollop will do.

Do you have any tips on maintaining a healthy smile? If so, feel free to share them. And while you're pondering good dental hygiene, don't forget to follow How-to Stuff on Facebook and Twitter and check out our forums!

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