We all want a beautiful smile. It’s one of the first things that people notice about us and makes a huge difference to our confidence and appearance. Of course, keeping your teeth healthy is key to not only an attractive smile, but also avoiding painful toothache and more serious problems such as cavities and gum disease. Luckily there are plenty of simple steps we can take to build good oral health habits and keep our teeth in perfect condition.

Here are four top tips to help you achieve excellent dental hygiene and a dazzling smile.

1. Brush regularly
You’ve probably been told this by your parents since you were little, but it really is the most im-portant thing you can do to look after your teeth. You should be brushing them at least twice a day – ideally in the morning and before bed – for about two or three minutes at a time. The technique you use is also important. A circular motion is best, being careful to cover the front, back and top of every single tooth. Just be careful not to brush too vigorously, as this can damage your gums. Finally, you should replace your toothbrush with a new one every few months, or soon-er if it starts to look frayed.

2. Use floss
Unfortunately, brushing alone is not enough! It’s also important to floss your teeth every day in order to get rid of bacteria, plaque and any tiny bits of food that are trapped between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing can also help to reduce gum inflammation and gum disease, which has been linked to a host of health conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke. Using mouthwash can be another beneficial addition to your dental routine and it helps to prevent bad breath.

3. Have regular dental appointments
Even if you don’t have any tooth pain, it’s very important to visit a dentist every 6 months for a checkup. They can give your teeth a more thorough clean, check for signs of any health issues that you will be unable to spot (for example by taking X-rays) in case you need a root canal or other treatment, and give detailed advice about how to best care for your teeth and gums. You can al-so ask them any questions you may have about oral health.

4. Eat and drink healthily
Having a healthy diet is crucial for looking after your teeth. You should steer clear of sugary foods and sodas, as these can be a big risk factor for tooth decay, and try not to add sugar to your tea or coffee. Drink plenty of water instead, as this can help to keep your mouth clean between brushing, and avoid alcohol because it can erode the outer surface of your teeth. Smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of gum disease, in addition to causing bad breath and staining your teeth yellow, so quitting cigarettes is also strongly recommended.