Certain habits cultivated in childhood can set the stage for lifelong health, and brushing your teeth is a perfect example. This simple yet essential routine, rooted in early years, not only ensures good oral hygiene but also becomes a cornerstone of overall well-being.

During this National Oral Health Month, a leading dental expert shares the secrets to improved oral hygiene through effective teeth-brushing techniques. From the proper brush strokes to the ideal time to replace toothbrushes, these insights will help you maintain a healthy and radiant smile.

"Oral hygiene can surprisingly have such a great impact on your overall health. Especially in children- poor hygiene can lead to cavities, pain, and infection- which could lead to swellings, visits to the ER, missed school days, etc. Lack of good oral care also causes bad breath and lowers self-esteem," Dr. Nidhi Kotak, a board-certified pediatric dentist from Vancouver, B.C. told Medical Daily.

Tooth brushing is a habit that should be initiated as soon as kids have their first teeth. "Use a super soft bristle toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste- sing a song, have fun- make it a routine! Dr. Kotak said.

"Kids can start brushing on their own usually around the age of 7 or 8 years when they have the manual dexterity to do a good job, or when they can tie their own shoelaces. Until then let them try but always supervise. Plaque-disclosing tablets can be a great learning tool," she added.

"When brushing your teeth, remember a few key tips to elevate your oral care routine. First, use small circular motions at the gum line, holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. It's not about the amount of force you apply, but the technique that truly makes a difference. Make sure to replace your toothbrush every 3-6 months to ensure its effectiveness. Additionally, if your child experiences a viral infection or any illness, it's important to switch out their toothbrush immediately to prevent reinfection," Dr. Kotak explained.

The American Dental Association advises brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, dedicating at least two minutes to each brushing session. For optimal oral health, it also recommends maintaining a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks and visiting a dentist regularly for the prevention and treatment of oral diseases.

"Nighttime brushing is way more important than the morning, but of course, the ideal is twice a day for 2 minutes, and make sure to floss daily. If you have braces, give your teeth some extra love- spend more time maintaining oral hygiene to prevent gum disease and cavities. Water flossers can also help!," Dr. Kotak added.