Thanks to better at-home care and in-office dental treatments, more people are keeping their teeth throughout their lives. Some diseases and conditions can make dental disease and tooth loss more likely. But most of us have a good deal of control over whether we keep our teeth into old age.
The most important things you can do are to brush and floss your teeth each day and see your dentist regularly.
Most mouth woes are caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria, bits of food and other organic matter that forms on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque make acids that cause cavities. Plaque also leads to periodontal (gum) disease. This can become a serious infection. It can damage bone and destroy the tissues around your teeth.
The best defense is to remove plaque before it has a chance to build up and cause problems. Brushing removes plaque from the large surfaces of the teeth and from just under the gums. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth. You also can use other tools to keep your mouth and teeth clean.
Read more about brushing, including how to choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste.
Read more about flossing. Learn how to choose the floss that will work best for you.
Read more about other cleaning tools, including mouthwashes, oral irrigators and interdental cleaners.