Take a bite out of dental problems by following these everyday steps, says the Academy of General Dentistry, a dentists' group.
1. Floss daily.
It's the single most important factor in preventing gum disease, which affects more than 50 percent of adults. Spend two to three minutes flossing at least once a day. Not flossing because it irritates your gums? The more often you floss, the tougher your gums will become.
2. Brush your teeth for at least two to three minutes twice daily.
Not sure whether you're brushing long enough? Brush for the length of an entire song on the radio.
3. Change your toothbrush or toothbrush head (if you're using an electric toothbrush) before the bristles become splayed and frayed, or every three to four months.
Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, they may harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections, such as gingivitis and gum disease.
4. Drink sugary beverages through a straw, and avoid carbonated drinks.
The straw will minimize the amount of time the sugars are in contact with your teeth, which can minimize the risk of developing cavities. Carbonated beverages cause enamel erosion and cavities. Replace soda with water, milk, tea or coffee.
5. Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol after meals and snacks.
This will help cleanse your mouth and prevent the bacteria associated with cavities from attaching to your teeth. Even better, gum will increase your saliva production and reduce bad breath.
6. Wait one hour to brush your teeth after consuming highly acidic food or drinks, such as wine, coffee, citrus fruits and soft drinks.
Otherwise, you run the risk of wearing away the enamel on your teeth.
7. See your dentist every six months.
More than 90 percent of systemic diseases have oral manifestations, meaning that your dentist could be the first health-care provider to diagnose a medical problem.