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Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

Woman brushing teeth

The Basics

It’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Here’s how:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth every day.
  • Visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning.
  • Cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.

Watch Out for Plaque

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 (cavities) and gum disease. Cavities and gum disease are the main causes of tooth loss.

The Benefits

Taking care of your teeth every day can help prevent problems as you grow older.

  • You won’t lose your teeth and have to get dentures.
  • You will be able to easily chew your favorite foods.
  • You won’t have to worry about how you look when you smile, talk, and laugh.

Take Action!

Brush Your Teeth

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste with fluoride in it.

  • Brush in circles and use short back-and-forth strokes.
  • Take time to brush gently along the gum line.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue.
  • Change your toothbrush at least every three months.

Floss Every Day

Floss everyday to remove plaque and food between teeth that your toothbrush missed. Be sure to rinse your mouth after you floss.

Proper way to hold floss
Flossing between upper teeth
Flossing between lower teeth

Get Regular Checkups at the Dentist

Visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning. Get checkups even if you have no natural teeth and have dentures.

You can still get dental care even if you don't have insurance. Find a health center near you to learn more.

If you have problems with your teeth or concerns about your mouth, see a dentist right away. Get tips for finding low-cost dental care.

Eat Healthy

Choose low-sugar snacks such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat cheese. Cut down on sugary soda and drinks that can lead to cavities.

Quit Smoking

Using tobacco in any form (cigarettes, cigars, pipe, spit tobacco) raises your risk for getting gum disease and oral (mouth) cancer.

Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Drinking a lot of alcohol can increase your risk for oral cancer. If you choose to drink, have only a moderate (limited) amount. Moderate means one drink a day for women; two drinks a day for men.

Learn how you can quit smoking and eat healthy to protect your teeth and mouth.

What do you want to do today?

  • Watch this video to learn how to brush and floss your teeth correctly. External Link
  • Check your toothpaste to be sure it has fluoride in it.
  • Make an appointment with a dentist for a checkup.
  • Include low-sugar snacks on your grocery list.
  • National Health Information Center

    P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133