Do you know if you have a cavity right now? Although you might assume that your teeth are healthy, a staggering 91% of all American adults have dental cavities, many of which are undetected. Since cavities are caused by bacteria collecting in the oral cavity and living off of plaque and tartar, a focus on dental care basics is important. Here are six tips for better oral hygiene and how to ward off painful dental decay.

1. Brush Your Teeth The Right Way

It can be easy to assume that you are doing things the right way—especially if you have been doing it that way for twenty years or more. Unfortunately, when it comes to dental care, most people don’t take the time to “brush up” on their form.

Brushing your teeth properly is crucial because it helps you to keep your teeth safe, reduce bacterial levels, and whisk away plaque and tartar. To keep your teeth and gums abrasion-free, you should always use a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush. If you have a tendency to brush aggressively, invest in a power toothbrush with an automatic sensor that cuts the motion when you press too hard.

The American Dental Association recommends holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently moving the brush back and forth. However, it should be noted that power toothbrushes do not require much movement from the brusher. Instead, the user should hold the brush still and gently navigate it around the tooth. You should brush your teeth and tongue twice a day for two minutes to reduce bacterial levels and keep your teeth clean.

2. Clean Between your Teeth

The ADA recommends flossing at least once per day to help to eliminate places for tartar to build and to remove odor-causing grime and bacteria that have collected between the teeth. To floss properly, use dental floss or an interdental cleaner that has the ADA seal of acceptance. Use steady, even pressure to push the cleaner or floss between your teeth. Gently wiggle the floss or cleaner between your teeth, freeing build-up. If your gums bleed easily during flossing, it could be a sign of the early stages of gingivitis.

3. Focus On Healthy Living

Everyone knows that you should eat a variety of foods and try to get exercise on a daily basis, but most people don’t realize how big of an impact healthy living can have on your smile. Eating right and getting the exercise you need every day can help to bolster your immune system, helping you to fend off oral health threats like periodontal disease. To keep your teeth healthy, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Exercise vigorously to improve your circulation and to encourage proper hydration.

4. Don’t Use Your Teeth Like A Multi-Tool

When they want to open something in a hurry, many people decide to use their teeth, helping them to pierce packages and tear open cellophane. Unfortunately, relying on your teeth to help you to open chip bags or to remove sales tags could land you in the emergency waiting room of your cosmetic dentistry office in Boston.

One accidental slip could cause you to close your jaw much harder than you intended, leading to painful fractures that could expose your dental roots and jaw to bacteria and infections. Instead of using your teeth to open packages, carry a small pair of scissors or a pocketknife with you so that you can get into packages without compromising your smile.

5. Understand Your Risk

Since issues like crooked teeth and periodontal disease have genetic ties, take the time to talk with your family members about their dental health. If your parents, siblings, or grandparents have problems with excessive inflammation, plaque buildup, or early gingivitis, mention it to your dentist and doctor. Understanding your own risk could help you to address problems more proactively.

6. Report Dental Problems Promptly

One of the most important oral health habits everyone should develop is reporting new dental issues to their provider as soon as possible. Get to know your teeth through personal daily inspections, proper brushing, and careful flossing. If you notice that your teeth have sensitive spots or seem like they are drifting apart, talk about it with your dentist. The early signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease are subtle, which is why a proper dental exam is crucial to your overall oral health.

In addition to meeting with your dentist for your normal checkups, experts also recommend visiting your periodontist annually for a CPE, or comprehensive periodontal exam. During these thorough exams, your periodontist will look for problems with your teeth, gums, and gingival tissues. These yearly exams can help your periodontist to recommend the proper timing for things like dental implants in Boston, so that you can protect your jaw tissue and keep your smile looking perfect.

By focusing on dental care and reporting issues to your Boston dentist, you can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile that you love showing off.