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How Can I Prevent Gingivitis?

For healthy teeth and gums, the American Dental Association recommends taking the following steps:

1. Brush your teeth 2 times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brushing once in the morning when you wake up and right before bed makes it easy to remember. Be sure to get a new toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles become frayed. Old, worn out toothbrushes won't clean teeth as thoroughly.

2. Floss every day -- not just when something gets stuck between your teeth. Daily flossing removes plaque buildup in places your toothbrush can't reach. If you don't like flossing, try interdental cleaners, which are picks or small brushes that fit in between teeth. It's a good idea to ask your dentist how to use them properly so you don't damage your gums.

3. Get extra protection by rinsing. Using an antimicrobial rinse can reduce the severity of gingivitis. As a bonus, you’ll also fight bad breath and reduce plaque. Look for the ADA seal. It means the American Dental Association finds the rinse effective.

4. Visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and oral exam. Once tartar develops, only your dentist can remove it. Depending on your overall oral health and risk factors, you may need to see the dentist more often.

5. Eat healthy foods and limit sweets and junk food. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches from food, releasing acids that attack tooth enamel and cause decay. Junk food and candy have a lot of extra sugar and starch. Avoid them to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

6. If you smoke, quit. Not only is smoking bad for your heart and lungs, but it's also bad for your teeth and gums. Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases the risk for severe gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.

Gingivitis may come back anytime you forget to floss or brush consistently. So stick with good oral health habits for a lifetime of bright smiles. 

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