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Quick GuideDental Health: 19 Habits That Wreck Your Teeth
Tips for Flossing
Floss once a day. Flossing gets rid of food and plaque between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. If plaque stays between teeth, it can harden into tartar, which must be removed by a dentist. To floss:
- Remove about an 18-inch strip of floss from the dispenser.
- Wind the floss around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving a 1-inch section open for flossing. Floss the top teeth first, then the bottom.
- Place the floss in your mouth and use your index fingers to push the floss between the teeth. Be careful not to push too hard and injure the gums.
- Move the floss up and down against the tooth and up and around the gum line. The floss should form a C-shape around the tooth as you floss.
- Floss between each tooth as well as behind the back teeth.
- Use a clean section of floss as needed and take up used floss by winding it around the fingers.
Tips for Eating Right
Eat a variety of foods but eat fewer foods that contain sugars and starches. These foods produce the most acids in the mouth and the longer they stay in the mouth, the more they can damage the teeth. Hard "sucking candies" are especially harmful because they stay in the mouth a long time.
Snacking on sugary foods can lead to tooth decay because most people don't brush after snacks. Starchy snack foods, like potato chips, stick to the teeth. Avoid snacking on:
- Candies, cookies, cakes and pie
- Sugary gum
- Crackers, breadsticks and chips
- Dried fruits and raisins
Visit your dentist at least once every six months. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, it's important to have regular check-ups and professional cleanings. You should also see your dentist if you have pain in your teeth or mouth or bleeding, swollen gums.
You can also ask your dentist about dental sealants. Sealant is a material used to coat the top, chewing surfaces of the teeth. This coating protects the tooth from decay and usually lasts a long time.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Dentistry.
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD, on October 22, 2007
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