Is your mouth as clean as possible?

Spring is a time to start fresh, and many Americans make spring cleaning an annual task in their homes. When it comes to your mouth, why wait until spring to show off your healthy smile? Here are a few ways to maintain a fresh, clean mouth all year long. 

Of course, it’s important to brush your teeth twice daily and floss once every day. You’ll keep bits of food from lingering in your mouth, helping to ward off bacteria and bad breath.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too, or use a tongue scraper. Bacteria can hide there, especially on the back of your tongue.

Mouthwash can help remove food from your teeth and temporarily leave your mouth and breath feeling fresh. You may want to choose mouthwash with “anti” on the label — antiseptic, anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis and anti-cavity — or an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash. They can help prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. 

Schedule your regular dental checkup, which can include a professional teeth cleaning and an exam that will check for early signs of oral health problems. Checkups are covered at 100 percent by most dental plans.

Take a close look inside your bathroom cabinets and drawers regularly. You should replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months due to bacteria buildup. Toss old brushes even sooner if you notice frayed bristles.

Check the expiration date on your toothpaste, as the fluoride may weaken over time and become less effective in cavity prevention. Look at the expiration date on your mouthwash, too. It can also become less powerful with time due to evaporation of its ingredients.