In the daily rush of modern life it can be hard to find time to care for yourself, and this includes taking appropriate care of your smile. Brushing and flossing your teeth properly each day is vital to avoiding tooth decay and toothaches. Mindfulness is good for your health, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t include your dental hygiene routine. What follows is an mindfulness exercise for caring for your teeth. Think of it like a guided meditation for your smile!

At the end of this 4 minute exercise, you should feel calm and content that you have taken proper care of your oral health.

Start by choosing a calm, isolated space. For most people this is the bathroom. If there are other people in your home that are being noisy or distracting, you should close the door.

First Minute – Flossing

Measure out your floss. You should use about 1.5 feet (45 cm) of floss to ensure that you have room to grip it while also not using the same length of floss throughout your mouth. Using a fresh part of the floss each time you move between teeth helps prevent the bacteria that cause tooth decay from spreading.

Holding the floss with your fingers a few inches apart, gentle wiggle the floss between your teeth. Curve the floss in a C-shape around each tooth and slowly move the floss up and down, all the way to the gumline and back. Your gums may start to tingle from the movement of the floss. Concentrate on this feeling as a massage for your gums, with the floss as a skillful massage therapist, soothing trouble spots and cleansing you of bad energy. When each tooth has gotten equal attention, discard your floss.

Second & Third Minute – Brushing

Next, select your toothbrush and carefully apply toothpaste. At this point, start counting in your head. Start with your top teeth and spend 30 seconds on the front of your teeth and the biting surfaces. Hold your toothbrush so the bristles are at a 45 degree angle to your teeth. This ensures that the brush sweeps against the gumline, where plaque and debris tend to accumulate.

Spend the next 30 seconds on the inside (tongue-side) surfaces of your teeth. To best reach this side, tilt your brush vertically and make several up and down strokes on each tooth. After 60 seconds total has passed, move on to your bottom teeth, repeating the process above in two more 30-second intervals.

As you brush, imagine your teeth becoming whiter and smoother. With each stroke, you are loosening and sweeping away sticky yellow plaque and revealing the gleaming surfaces of your pearly whites.

Next, open your mouth wide and gently sweep your brush from the back to the front of your tongue. If you have a tongue scraper tool, use that instead of your toothbrush. This liberates food particles and the bacteria that can cause bad breath and tooth decay from the bumpy surface of your tongue.

Fourth Minute – Rinsing

Finally, rinse your mouth. This is a good time to start a breathing exercise. As you swish either water or your mouthwash, breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Try inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 3 seconds. After you’ve swished for the amount of time recommended on your mouthwash (usually about 30 seconds), spit it out the rinse.

Run your tongue around your teeth, enjoying their cleanliness. Take a deep breath, paying special attention to the fresh sensation of your breath. Take a moment to smile, knowing you’ve taken excellent care of your smile.

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