Implementing The Three R's For Better Brushing Habits

Posted on

Dentists, the media, and social pressure can make it seem like it should be easy to brush and floss your teeth twice a day. However, recent research has found that around 30 percent of Americans do not brush twice a day, and 23 percent of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing. If you are not brushing twice a day, it can be difficult to start a new brushing habit. You may find yourself going to your yearly dental check-ups, making promises to brush more, only to lose interest a week or two after you start. One method for forming new habits, the 3 R's: Reminder, Routine, and Reward, can help you create and stick with a healthier tooth-brushing habit. 


When creating a new habit, it is important to link it to habits that are already second nature for you. These daily routines will serve as a reminder to engage in the new habit. You should begin by creating a list of the things you do every morning and night and the things that regularly happen to you at those times. For example, if you shower every morning, that can be a great reminder to brush your teeth. You may want to move your toothbrush into the shower to take advantage of that reminder. However, if you do not shower every day or shower at irregular times, it will not be an adequate reminder. 

When selecting your trigger event, you should make sure that you will have free time to brush and floss your teeth after the event. Your baby may wake you up regularly every morning, but since they may need immediate care, this is not a good reminder. Instead, select a time when you are free, such as while your partner feeds your child in the morning. This may mean you have to wake up 5-10 minutes earlier to fit brushing and flossing into your morning routine. 


Brushing and flossing may seem like simple tasks, but it is important that you are doing them correctly. You should ask your dental hygienist to watch you brush and floss at your next appointment. They can give you advice to increase your speed and efficiency. They may instruct you on zone brushing techniques, which will allow you to be sure you brush all of the surfaces of your teeth without skipping any sections of your mouth. This knowledge should give you the confidence to brush and floss daily.

You may want to start with small changes to your routine. For example, start with just brushing. Once you have established that habit, start with partial flossing once a day and a full floss during your other cleaning. Finally, work your way up to brushing and flossing twice a day. This will make your new habit less intimidating and time consuming.  


Rewarding yourself for a job well done makes you look forward for the next tooth-brushing session. Unfortunately, many people associate reward and celebration with the consumption of food and drink, which is not something you want to do when you finish brushing your teeth. Instead, think about playing your favorite song every time you brush your teeth. This gives you a reward while helping ensure you spend enough time brushing. Alternatively, you can reward yourself by kissing your significant other after both of you have brushed your teeth. 

It is important that you stick with your new habit. Many people claim that it takes only 21 days to form a new habit, but it can take longer and even after you have established your healthy habit, a break in your routine can make it difficult to continue. If you forget to brush or floss, it is important to forgive yourself and start again as soon as possible. For more information on dental care, visit a site like