A lot of people are under the impression that they have to brush after every meal or three time a day. Actually, brushing twice a day is the rule--after breakfast and before bedtime.

There's a brilliant reason why you should do this. Your mouth is full of bacteria more commonly known as germs. These germs like to eat all of the same things that you do, especially sugar. They also live a lot like we do. They digest foods and then secrete their by-products onto your teeth in the form of plaque.

Plaque is that icky, sticky, cheesy looking stuff that you can feel on your teeth if you haven't been brushing regularly. You may have also seen it on other people's teeth especially if you have teenagers. If left there long enough the plaque will turn into hard deposits that are called tartar. The plaque and tartar accumulation causes inflammation in your gums. You know this as gingivitis.

Think about this: If you washed your hands and they bled, would you think that was normal? (You should answer NO.) The same thing is true for your gums. Bleeding is not normal and means you have inflamed gums. This means two things. It's time to see your dentist and dental hygienist, and it's time to be more thorough with your oral hygiene.

Inflammation can also impact your overall health and we'll talk about that in the "to your health" section.

So, brush 2x daily for 2 minutes each time. Soft circular motions inside and out, brushing the teeth and gums will insure good plaque removal. Don't forget to brush the tops of the teeth and your tongue also. Use a soft toothbrush and any paste you like as long as it has fluoride in it. The American Dental Hygienists' Association has a great diagram and information about brushing. Just click the button up above to find it!