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Six healthy dental habits young adults should remember

Just because the tooth fairy hasn't dropped by in a while, that doesn't mean you can ignore your dental health. Cavities aren't just for kids. You can get them at any age, so healthy gums and teeth should remain a priority.

But you're busy. You've got a lot on your plate. If you miss a flossing or two, it's no big deal. Right?

While you may be tempted to skimp on the good dental habits you learned as a kid, you should know how ignoring the little, but important things, can cause problems down the road. Let's go over the simple things you can do to keep your mouth healthy.

Healthy dental habits

Grab healthy snacks vs. junk food

A healthy diet helps you avoid cavities and gum disease. Fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese, nuts, and whole grains are good for your body and your mouth. Limit the amount of sugary and high carbohydrate food and drinks you consume because they help produce bacteria that leads to bad breath and cavities. You can learn about foods that claim to be healthy but have high sugar content here.

If you need something sweet, try sugar-free gum. It helps increase saliva, your body's natural defense against mouth bacteria.

Drink water

Water straight from the faucet has fluoride, which helps keep your teeth strong. The fewer sports drinks, flavored waters, juices, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and carbonated beverages you have, the better. Substitute water any time you can. It's good for your teeth and your whole body.

If you smoke or use tobacco, quit

You already know what smoking does to your lungs, but did you know that it also messes with your teeth and gums? Tobacco can stain your teeth and smokers often develop dry mouth, which leads to bad breath and can cause cavities and gum disease. Or worse: cancer.

Brush twice a day, for a full 2 to 3 minutes

You already know how to brush teeth correctly, but you may have developed the bad habit of doing a quick once over with the toothbrush. Take the time to do a good brushing. Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub your teeth for a full 2 - 3 minutes. Find a song you like, pop in your ear buds, and don't quit brushing till the music stops. And remember to get a new toothbrush at least 3 - 4 times a year.

Floss every day

Let's face it, flossing is a bore. But if it can keep your breath fresh and mouth cavity free, it's worth it. Good flossing technique: Pull the floss up and down the sides of your teeth to help scrape off the plaque that causes cavities. If you haven't flossed in a while, your gums may bleed or be a little sore, but keep at it. Soon it will be a breeze. Learn more about flossing.

Keep your dental appointments

Visiting your dentist every 6 months as recommended prevents problems from getting worse. Plus, nothing feels quite as good as a mouthful of teeth that have just been professionally cleaned.

Good dental care should be a lifetime habit. It may take a little more time and concentration than you want to spend right now, but it will pay off in the long run.

Just follow the simple dental care steps you learned when you were younger, and dump any bad habits you may have now, before they become permanent. You'll be glad you did.

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