5 years of good oral health adds up to positive results


For a healthy smile, it’s important to practice good habits daily, including brushing, flossing, maintaining a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. Your perseverance can add up to good oral and overall health for the long term.

How do your healthy habits add up?

You may be surprised by the totals from five years* of good oral health. 


Brushing removes plaque from teeth and gums. Without brushing, this sticky film of bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum disease and more. Studies suggest oral bacteria and severe gum disease might also play a role in diseases outside of the mouth, including diabetes and heart disease. To remove plaque, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.

5-year total: 7,304 minutes (more than 5 days!)

Changing toothbrushes

If you use the same toothbrush for too long, it can become less effective at removing plaque. As the bristles break down, it’s more difficult to reach places a new toothbrush can. To maintain maximum effectiveness, change your toothbrush (or toothbrush head on an electric toothbrush) every three months — or sooner if the bristles begin to look frayed or worn.

5-year total: Approximately 20 new toothbrushes or toothbrush heads

Using toothpaste

Toothpaste almost always contains fluoride — a vital mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, protects teeth from decay and helps prevent acids from causing cavities. That’s why you should always use fluoride toothpaste when you brush. While you only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time you brush, even that small amount adds up over time.

5-year total: More than 2 pounds of toothpaste


Brushing alone doesn’t clean the entire surface of your teeth. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth. If you don’t remove plaque, it can harden into tartar that collects along your gum line. You should floss daily with an 18-inch piece of floss.

5-year total: More than 1/2 mile of floss

Drinking water

Water helps clean your mouth by washing away cavity-causing sugars and acids. Regularly drinking water (preferably fluoridated) can also relieve or prevent dry mouth, which left unchecked can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and more. While the amount of water needed varies by individual, you should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses daily1 for oral health benefits and to prevent dehydration.

5-year total: 913 gallons of water at minimum

Visiting the dentist

During a dental visit, your dentist can uncover cavities, gum disease and oral cancer early on, when they are easier and less costly to treat. Many other diseases, including diabetes, Crohn’s and blood disorders can show signs in your mouth as well. Remember to schedule regular dental visits for a thorough oral exam and a cleaning.

5-year total: At least 5-10 dental visits for exams and preventive treatments


Taking great care of your smile really adds up to better health. Keep up your daily diligence! 


*Five-year period includes one leap year.

1Mayo Clinic