Teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Brushing and flossing prevent germs from building up. This reduces the risk of tooth decay (small holes in the teeth also called cavities) and gum disease. Germs from the mouth can travel through the body and affect other organs like the heart and lungs. Taking good care of your teeth and seeing your dentist will help keep your mouth and your body healthy.
Talk to your dentist if you have any questions.
Adults should brush their teeth after meals and snacks, at least twice a day. Brush with a soft toothbrush in a circular motion for at least three to five minutes. It's also important to floss once a day. Floss can reach places your toothbrush can't such as between teeth and under the gum line. Other ways to keep your teeth healthy include:
- Avoiding soda and sugary foods. They can stick to teeth and cause decay.
- Quitting smoking and chewing tobacco. This reduces the risk of mouth cancers, yellow teeth, bad breath and other problems. Talk to your doctor for help quitting.
- Seeing the dentist. Don't wait until you have pain! Your teeth may be at risk long before you know it.
Parents play a large part in taking care of their kids teeth and teaching good habits at a young age.
- Wipe your baby's gums with a clean cloth before your baby even has teeth.
- Clean your baby's teeth one or two times a day as soon as they come in. Gently wipe with a wet, soft cloth or baby toothbrush.
- Use a toothpaste without fluoride for babies and young children. Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents decay, but swallowing too much can be bad for your child.
- Start to use a small (pea-sized) amount of fluoride toothpaste when your child can spit after brushing.
- Help kids brush their teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old. Try brushing their teeth first and then letting them practice.
Sucking all day long on a bottle filled with liquids other than water can cause tooth decay. Here are some tips to avoid baby bottle tooth decay:
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle at night or at nap time.
- Do not let your child walk around with a bottle or drink from it for long periods.
- If your baby uses a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey.
- Teach your child to drink from a cup at one year old.
Start taking your child to the dentist around 12 months of age.
Limit foods and drinks high in sugar. They can stick to teeth and lead to decay. Foods with calcium, like milk, yogurt and cheese, help your child build strong teeth and bones.