Some say the eyes are the window to the soul, but if you really want to know what someone’s about, check their smile. A welcoming show of pearly whites makes a great first impression, while a tight-lipped smile or whiff of bad breath does the opposite.

Read on for tips on how to make sure you’re giving your teeth the care they deserve.

1. Brush two times a day for two minutes.

Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, says the American Dental Association (ADA). This will keep your teeth in top form. Brushing your teeth and tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste cleans food and bacteria from your mouth. Brushing also washes out particles that eat away at your teeth, causing cavities.

tooth brushingdos and donts

2. A morning brush fights morning breath!

Did You Know?
Tartar builds up in hard-to-reach areas of even the cleanest mouths. The culprit is saliva. Sticky proteins in saliva adhere to the teeth and are hard to brush away.

The mouth is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit: warm and wet, it’s filled with food particles and bacteria. These lead to deposits called plaque. When this builds up it calcifies, or hardens, on your teeth to form tartar, or calculus. Not only does tartar irritate your gums, it can lead to gum disease as well as cause bad breath.

3. But don’t over-brush.

Anyone who’s ever watched “Friends” knows that it’s possible to overdo it when it comes to dental care. If you brush more than twice a day, for longer than four minutes total, you could wear down the enamel layer that protects your teeth.

When tooth enamel isn’t there, it exposes a layer of dentin. Dentin has tiny holes that lead to nerve endings. When these are triggered, you might feel all sorts of pain. Almost 20 percent of adults suffer from pain and sensitivity in their teeth.

4. Don’t turbo charge.

It’s also possible to brush too hard. Brush your teeth like you’re polishing an eggshell. If your toothbrush looks like someone sat on it, you’re applying too much pressure.

Sports Drink, or Sports Don’t?
The acid in juice and sports drinks wears away at enamel. Combined with dry mouth from heavy breathing, this can cause severe tooth decay. If you hit the gym, grab a bottle of water and a banana instead.

Enamel is strong enough to protect teeth from everything that goes on inside your mouth, from eating and drinking to beginning the digestive process. Children and teens have softer enamel than adults, leaving their teeth more prone to cavities and erosion from food and drink.

5. Make sure you floss every day.

Want to avoid minimal scraping at your next checkup? Flossing loosens the particles that brushing misses. It also removes plaque, and in so doing prevents the buildup of tartar. While it’s easy to brush plaque away, you need a dentist to remove tartar.

6. It doesn’t matter when you do it.

You finally have an answer to the age-old question: “which comes first, flossing or brushing?” It doesn’t matter, according to the ADA, as long as you do it every day.

7. Stay away from soda.

Quick Tip
Brush after you chew a vitamin C tablet. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can wear away enamel if you do not brush and rinse after. Better yet, if you do take vitamin C, take a pill that you can swallow instead of chew.

“Sip All Day, Get Decay” is a campaign from the Minnesota Dental Association, warning people of the dangers of soft drinks. Not just sugar soda, but diet soda, too. The acid in soda attacks teeth. Once acid eats away at enamel, it goes on to create cavities, leaves stains on the tooth surface, and erodes the inside structure of the tooth. To avoid drinking-related tooth decay, limit soft drinks and take good care of your teeth.