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You're Not Alone: Learning How To Make Brushing Your Teeth An Automatic Daily Habit

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If you're an adult who still has to put "brush teeth" on your to do list if you want to remember to do it, you're not alone, believe it or not. As basic as this task seems, not everyone has it ingrained in their minds as an automatic habit, like putting on shoes before leaving for work. Rather than continually try to hide your to-do list, thinking that you'd be too embarrassed to have other people find it, use multiple tactics to get into the habit of brushing your teeth at specific times.

It is possible to learn a new habit if you're an adult; you just need to approach it from several angles, rather than trying to force yourself to remember and then getting upset when you don't.

Don't Remove Your To-Do List Item Just Yet

First, keep the to-do list item of brushing your teeth on the list until the habit is in place. Don't go cold turkey, thinking that by immediately removing the list item and not reminding yourself, you're somehow engraving this task into your mind. As you get better at remembering, though, change the terminology you use. Instead of writing something like "wash face, brush teeth," use shorthand like, "get ready," where that includes everything from washing your face to brushing and flossing, plus other morning and nighttime personal care routines.

Set Definite Times

Set definite times when you'll brush your teeth, such as brushing at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. If your schedule allows you to brush at 12-hour intervals, like 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. instead, that will be easier to remember and could cause the habit to form faster. If you can associate the task with a time, that can help make the task into something you just automatically do. You might have to set alarm clocks, though, so you don't lose track of time.

Place Notes Everywhere -- and Keep Adding Them

Notes everywhere can definitely help, though anyone living with you has to be willing to help keep the notes in place. Notes on the bathroom mirror, on your coffeemaker (or in a place where the note won't heat up and catch fire near the coffeemaker), in the utensil drawer, and on light switch plates can all help. If your spouse or another person living with you is helping you, they can add notes at random occasionally -- the novelty of a new note placement helps prevent the task from slipping to the back of your mind as you get used to seeing the notes.

Make Your Brush Super-Obvious

Put your toothbrush and paste in a more conspicuous place where you know you'll see it, like next to your phone charger. People expect to see toothbrushes in bathrooms and can sort of ignore them there. But if the brush is right next to your charger or another item you need to use, you'll be sure to see the brush and be reminded to use it.

Don't worry if it takes you a while to get into the habit. You might have to use these tactics for quite some time. But eventually, you'll start noticing that you're brushing your teeth daily and then twice daily without really having to remind yourself. The payoff will be better teeth and gums, and a sense of accomplishment. (For information on a dentist, contact Family Dental Care)