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How to Prevent Cavities: Healthy New Year's Dental Resolutions

Lindsey Chamberlain

When it comes to resolutions, many people strive to improve their family's health by changing their dietary habits and exercising more frequently. If you are wondering how to prevent cavities, consider recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA) for incorporating healthy dental habits into your New Year's resolutions. By committing to thorough oral hygiene and by adopting healthy dietary habits, you can reduce the likelihood that you and your family will develop oral conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Commit to a Meticulous Oral Hygiene Regimen

Your first line of defense against developing cavities is practicing good oral hygiene every day. You should brush at least twice a day, especially after meals and before bedtime, using an ADA-approved toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Brush your teeth in soft, short strokes for about 2 minutes each time to remove as much plaque and leftover food debris as possible. You should gently brush your tongue, too.

In addition to brushing, flossing should be done at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and food particles that are stuck between teeth and along the gumline. Flossing is imperative for disrupting the colonies of bacteria that form along the gums and in hard-to-reach areas between teeth. Adopting proper oral hygiene not only wards off tooth decay, but it also helps reduce the likelihood of developing gum disease.

To help yourself and your family members adopt healthy oral hygiene habits, consider the following tips. Use a timer to ensure that you and your family are brushing your teeth for the recommended amount of time. Create an oral hygiene to-do chart on a dry erase board or on poster board to track your family's progress. This visual aid is especially useful for children and can be decorated with stickers to make oral hygiene fun. Watch your children's brushing habits and provide positive encouragement to foster improvement.

Reduce Consumption of Sugary and Acidic Foods

Harmful oral bacteria feed off sugar. In fact, sugar and starches are bacteria's natural food source. By reducing sugar intake, you can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Check food and beverage labels for sugar content and, when possible, avoid foods that contain large amounts of sugar. Additionally, be wary of acidic foods and drinks. Acid strips tooth enamel of its minerals. Over time, enamel damage leaves the sensitive interior structure of teeth unprotected against cavity-causing bacteria. When you or your children consume sugary or acidic drinks, drink through a straw to limit the exposure of the surfaces of your teeth to the drinks. Consider leaving straws on your kitchen counter for easy access by all family members.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water is essential to maintaining optimal health, which includes your family's oral health. Be sure that you and your family members drink water throughout the day to aid in proper hydration, rinse away food and dilute acids in your mouth.

For more information about how to prevent cavities and gum disease, contact your dental professional for expert advice. Through proper home care, healthy dietary habits and routine cleanings and checkups, you can protect your and your family's teeth for a lifetime.

Learn more about healthy dental habits in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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