You may have heard that it takes 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit. If that’s true, you can have your dental routine down pat in just three weeks, says Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS. Here, the OKC dentist lists four easy steps for keeping teeth and gum in tip-top shape.

Brush twice a day, every day

Brushing is the single most important thing you can do for your mouth. Not only does brushing remove debris that can potentially cause decay, it also helps to freshen breath and eliminate stains. For optimum results, the OKC dentist recommends using a soft-bristle brush that fits in your mouth easily. Use a fluoride-enhanced toothpaste and brush for at least two minutes to ensure contact with each tooth. Don’t forget your tongue, which can hold on to excess germs and bacteria.

Floss at night

According to the OKC dentist, flossing is just as important as brushing to remove plaque and food particles between the teeth. Be careful not to use so much force that it causes bleeding. Dr. Johnson says that waxed and unwaxed floss are equally effective and that mint-flavored dental floss will offer an added burst of freshness.

Don’t cut the calcium

OKC dentist Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS, says that calcium encourages healthy formation of the teeth and jaw bones. A diet rich in whole milk and real cheese will keep teeth strong. As an added benefit, cheese raises the pH levels of the mouth, helping to fight cavities.

Stay hydrated

Dr. Johnson explains that a dry mouth actually harbors more bacteria than a moist one. The OKC dentist recommends drinking plenty of water, which hydrates not only the mouth but the entire body. Chewing sugarless gum also increase saliva production and help wash away food particles between brushings.