In the week following Halloween, many of us are recovering from eating just a little extra candy. While all that candy may be delicious, sugar can negatively impact your teeth and gums. Take this opportunity to revisit your dental health routine. Taking care of your teeth is important at all ages in order to prevent health problems with your gums and teeth. Although many people are taking good care of their teeth, about 100 million Americans do not visit their dentist annually.

One aspect of maintaining good dental hygiene is preventing plaque buildup. Plaque is bacteria that can live in your mouth and is common in places of the mouth where a toothbrush cannot reach, such as in between your teeth. If plaque accumulates, it can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Check out these helpful tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy:

Brush for an adequate amount of time. The ADA suggests that people brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. One suggestion for timing is to listen to a song or a video while brushing.

Change your brush. Using the same toothbrush for a long period of time can decrease how clean your teeth are getting every time you brush. Changing your toothbrush every three to four months is the recommended amount of time to use a toothbrush.

Use mouthwash. After brushing your teeth, use mouthwash to help prevent bad breath, plaque buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay.

Floss properly. When flossing at least once a day, use about an 18 inch piece of floss and use a different part of it every time you floss in between different teeth. Be gentle and use a sawing motion.

Sources: American Dental Association, The Better Health Channel, and the CDC. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.