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You know you’re supposed to brush and floss and watch what you eat, but have you ever wondered why? Here are some things you can do to prevent cavities, and why they help.

Brush and Floss: Floss and brush your teeth every day! We have heard this counsel since we were children, but some people still struggle. Let’s review the basics: brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time. Some people set a series of 30 second timers, one for each quadrant of the mouth. This helps them get a thorough clean. Floss once daily. This should take two to three minutes each day.

Proper brushing and flossing technique prevent plaque buildup. Plaque is an unsightly film made of living bacteria, which eat the sugars left in your mouth from leftover food particles. They create an acidic byproduct that coats the teeth and erodes enamel until a cavity forms. Brushing and flossing removes the bacteria and food particles from teeth, thus reducing cavity formation.

Reduce Acid Intake: Not only can acid from bacteria cause cavities, but acidic foods and drinks can also erode enamel directly. It is best to reduce your intake of acidic drinks, such as wine, soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. If you do choose to drink these beverages, use a straw if you can. This will help protect the teeth from exposure.

Chew Gum: After eating or drinking, the acids from the food and drink temporarily soften the tooth enamel. Thus, it is best not to brush immediately after eating (unless directed to do so by your dentists). Instead, use the body’s natural defense—saliva—by chewing a piece of sugarless gum. The excess saliva created by chewing the gum will wash food particles away from teeth and help to neutralize the acids present. This prepares your teeth for brushing.

For more information, call Engelhardt & Associates in Fort Collins, Colorado, at 970-484-4890. Dr. Engelhardt, Dr. Slootmaker, Dr. Ralston and our team look forward to seeing you soon!