The Basics: Overview
Healthy habits, including brushing and flossing, can prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease. Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to pain and tooth loss.
You can prevent most problems with teeth and gums by taking these steps:
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day with fluoride (“FLOOR-ide”) toothpaste.
- Floss between your teeth every day.
- Visit a dentist regularly for a checkup and cleaning.
- Cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
What causes tooth decay and gum disease?
Plaque (“plak”) is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth. When plaque stays on your teeth too long, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing and flossing help get plaque off your teeth so your mouth can stay healthy.
Taking care of your teeth and gums is especially important if you: