For many adults, routine visits to the dentist and dental enamel seem like a foreign concept. Although we all know we should brush and floss at least twice a day, a significant number of adults in the U.S. avoid the dentist altogether. Not only is that bad for our teeth, but it also causes issues like heart disease and other illnesses that can be caused by poor oral health, such as diabetes. This article will take one through some of the most essential tips for keeping their teeth pearly white.

How Does Tooth Decay Emerge?

Bacteria cause tooth decay by feeding on the sugars and starches in the foods and drinks we consume to grow – and leaving behind the waste in the form of a biofilm known as dental plaque. Plaque allows all those little bacteria to stick around the teeth longer until eventually, they make acids that cause decay to the tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Tooth decay isn’t something that just happens in a day—it starts in a gradual way with the food being eaten. Sugary foods, starches, and acidic foods cause bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that erode tooth enamel. Plaque is also a very sticky substance that adheres quite easily to tooth surfaces. The biofilm of bacteria and sugars from plaque will remain there until it’s dealt with by brushing and flossing, or it can form holes or pits in the teeth called cavities.

Proper Brushing Techniques

Washing the teeth properly means spending more than a minute of the day on it. Start by securing the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums. Shift the brush back and forth gently in short, tooth-wide strokes. Brush each tooth’s inner, outer, and chewing surfaces. With the help of the tip of the toothbrush, clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up and downstroke. (Do not scrub).

Proper Flossing Techniques

To ensure the teeth and gums are in good condition, try to floss every day. Many dentists recommend “mild” floss—the kind made from a waxed thread coated with wax, Teflon, nylon, or a mixture of these materials. One can buy mild floss that comes with plastic handles or has been pre-wound on small plastic spools that fit into a handheld device called a flosser.