If you never got into the habit of oral hygiene, or if your routine has changed so that you no longer remember to do so, it is essential to develop a routine that will help you brush automatically. Setting alarms, writing notes, and asking for help remembering will help you establish a routine for your oral hygiene. If you have memory issues, the reminders may be a permanent part of your routine.
Giving Yourself Reminders
Keep it in sight. Leave out your toothpaste and toothbrush so that it is more apparent to you. Make sure they are somewhere you will see during the times of day you would like to brush your teeth. Keep them in a cup by the sink in the bathroom, for instance. A brightly colored cup might help draw your attention.
Write yourself notes. Put post-its or other notes in places you are likely to see them. Change them routinely so that your eyes don’t learn to skip them. Put one note on your bathroom mirror, and another by your bed, on your lamp, or on your kitchen table. Put a note on the back of your front door to remind yourself to brush before leaving the house.
- Write something like “brush!” or draw a picture of your toothbrush.
- Some toothbrushes have a clock and a timer that you can use to set alarms and measure the brushing time. This might help you to remember to brush as well.
Write it on your calendar. If you have a pocket agenda, write “brush teeth” into your daily schedule. A to-do list with items you check off could also help. If you have a wall calendar, you can put it there. Any document you are likely to refer to frequently is a good place for a reminder.
Set an alarm. Use an alarm clock, your phone, or your computer to set an alarm for the times of day you would like to brush your teeth. You can look up free alarm systems online. Always brush as soon as your alarm goes off, or it will lose power.
Sync up. If you live with someone, brush your teeth when they do. Ask them to brush at the same time as you, or immediately before. Observe when they brush or have them tell you when they are going to brush their teeth so you can brush after. Another idea may be to keep the toothbrush on one side of the sink and place the toothpaste parallel to it, but on the other side of the sink so it will draw your attention.
Ask for a reminder. Ask someone to remind you every night. If you know someone who really looks out for you, such as a parent, partner, or best friend, ask them to remind you to brush your teeth. If they live far from you, they can call you.
Creating a Routine for Oral Hygiene
Observe your oral hygiene habits. Draw up a list of things you do every night before bed. You probably have a routine, even if you don’t keep it consciously. Maybe you always watch TV, or you always change into pajamas. Write a list of everything you normally do before bedtime.
- Do the same for your morning routine. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day.
- In the morning, it may be easiest to brush teeth when you first get up, like washing your face to refresh yourself.
- If you groggy when you first wake up, try brushing your teeth after you have had breakfast.
Integrate brushing into your list. Look at the list and ask yourself “when would it make sense to brush my teeth?” You should brush your teeth after you have finished eating and drinking for the day. It is a good idea to brush your teeth before you get into bed, as you may fall asleep without completing your routine. Add “brush teeth” to the list.
- Brush your teeth as early as makes sense for your routine. If you never eat or drink anything but water after dinner, brush immediately after dinner.
- Add “brush teeth” to the list before you get too tired to brush your teeth and remember it is the most important thing you need to do before sleeping.
- Attach your brushing to something you do reliably. If you always eat at certain times, set your brushing to happen right after you eat.
- If you shower daily, try always brushing your teeth while you shower.
Follow your list. Your list is now an “order of operations.” Make copies of your list, and check off each item as you do it. Do this every night for a week, or until you feel that brushing is a part of your routine. Next, try leaving the list by your bed. Don’t look at it until you have gotten into bed. Did you brush your teeth?
- If you keep forgetting to brush your teeth, use the list again. Use it until it is no longer useful for you.
- It is important to list things besides “brush teeth” to the list, because otherwise, you may forget the list entirely.
Follow your routine. Once you have established an order of operations that make sense to you, follow it. You are trying to break one habit and establish another. Losing track of your new routine could put you right back where you started. Re-introduce the list whenever you fall out of your new habit.
- Let yourself know that not brushing isn’t an option. When you realize you forgot to brush, brush. Do this even if it means you’ll have to get out of a warm bed or interrupt your workflow.
- Also, make sure to use a mouthwash to rinse before going to bed. You might try leaving the bottle in awkward places, such as your desk or close to your bed to remember that you have to brush. Then, move the bottle to another place to catch your attention the next day.
Treating the Cause of Oral Hygiene
Get comfortable. You may be forgetting to brush your teeth because you have an aversion to it. If brushing your teeth hurts or gums or overwhelms your senses, you may let yourself “forget” more than otherwise. Do everything you can to make brushing a comfortable act. Get a toothbrush that you like.
- If you are frustrated with the time brushing takes, try setting a timer or playing a song of a certain length while you brush.
- If your gums are sensitive, try an electronic toothbrush, or a soft toothbrush. However, also make sure you visit a dentist or a periodontist to teach you the proper brushing technique.
- Get a kind of toothpaste that smells and tastes good to you. Pick a flavor you like, or choose an unscented, neutral toothpaste.
- Create a pleasant tooth cleaning environment. Listen to music while you brush your teeth. Wear slippers if your feet are cold.
- Ask yourself “do I like being in the bathroom?” If you share your bathroom, if it’s dirty, or if you don’t like looking at yourself in the mirror, you may be avoiding it. Find another place to brush your teeth, or make improvements to your bathroom..
Brush before you get too tired. If you tend to do a lot of activities in bed before you fall asleep, you may fall asleep where you are. A good oral hygiene tip. brush your teeth before you get into bed. You may not be a morning person and may wake up too groggy to remember to brush. Set a reminder, or brush every day after breakfast or lunch.
- If you work or hang out until late and come home exhausted, either set a reminder or bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you and brush as soon as you are done with food and drink. Even if you are in a hurry for work after breakfast, never brush your teeth in a rush because it can do a lot of harm to your gums and teeth. Take the toothbrush and the toothpaste with you and brush before entering your office.
- If your routine is making it impossible for you to complete basic acts of self-care, consider making larger changes.
Take care of yourself when you’re down. It may be hard to remember to care for yourself when you are feeling depressed, anxious, or demoralized. Remind yourself that anything you can do to take care of yourself will help your mood, albeit slightly. Take care of all parts of your body: brush your teeth, eat three solid meals a day, move around, and get a full night’s sleep. Spend time with people you love, and get counseling if you are feeling stuck.
Frame your acts of self-care as self-love. Say “I deserve clean teeth,” or “Everything I do for myself is worth doing.” if you what more information or you have a doubt please contact us and we will happily answer any question that you may have.