Watch your mouth!

Watch your mouth!

Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 6 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adults are also affected — nine out of ten individuals over the age of 20 have some degree of tooth decay. But you can keep your smile healthy for a lifetime with good habits and proper oral hygiene.

  • Brush and floss. Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from decay and gum disease, which is caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque – a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day.
  • Limit sugar intake. Sugar in snacks and drinks can cause cavities, which can erode and damage tooth enamel — particularly when sugar remains in your mouth for an extended period.
  • Play it safe. Contact sports can cause oral injuries, but you can prevent damage to your teeth by wearing a mouthguard on the field or court. Whether you choose a guard that’s custom-fitted by your dentist or buy a stock guard at a store, keep it clean by rinsing it often and storing it in a ventilated container.
  • Avoid oral piercings. Tongue piercings can be dangerous. Oral jewelry can chip your teeth while you eat, sleep or speak, which may require a filling, root canal or even extraction. Oral piercings can also lead to infections, difficulty breathing and risk of hepatitis.
  • Choose healthy snacks. If you’re too busy to sit down for full, balanced meals, choose nutritious, tooth-friendly, on-the-go snacks like apples, carrot sticks and cheese.
  • Visit the dentist. Twice-yearly dental visits and cleanings are vital to maintaining oral health and catching any minor problems before they become larger.

Related reading

Article: Hygiene-related diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Article: Mouthguards. American Dental Association
Last updated: April 2017

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

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