The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that approximately 47.2% of adults age 30 and older have periodontal disease. The CDC also reports that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting American children. What both statistics have in common is plaque. Fortunately, our Hudsonville, MI, dentists can help you avoid oral health issues when you schedule a teeth cleaning every 6 months. Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth and gums. Over time, this plaque eats sugar and starch to produce acid. It’s this acid that erodes tooth enamel and attacks your gums. Fortunately, our dentists can remove plaque and tartar, as well as advise you on how to maintain a healthy smile. Here are 5 important components that should be a part of every oral hygiene routine. Improve Your Oral Health By: 1. Brushing At Least Twice a Day The American Dental Association (ADA) and our dentists recommend you brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride occurs naturally and has long been recognized for its oral health benefits. In fact, many municipalities have fluoridated drinking water to help reduce cavities. Make sure you brush for 2 minutes so you have enough time to clean all your teeth. If you always brush your teeth with one foot out the door, you could be leaving behind plaque on back teeth that are harder to reach. It’s not uncommon for people to develop cavities in their back teeth when they rush. 2. Flossing Once a Day Plaque loves to hide where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. That’s why it’s so important you floss once a day to remove plaque hiding in between teeth and along the gum line. Flossing helps prevent cavities from forming in between teeth so you can avoid an unpleasant surprise during your next teeth cleaning and oral examination with us. If you struggle to use traditional floss correctly, our dentists recommend investing in a water flosser is possible. This handy device uses a stream of water to flush out leftover food debris for a more thorough clean. 3. Using a Mouth Rinse Once a Day We recommend using a fluoride mouth rinse to help strengthen tooth enamel. Swishing with mouth rinse for 30-45 seconds helps wash away any residual plaque or food particles that could be left behind after brushing and flossing. Our dentists can help you choose an ADA trusted brand that works for you. 4. Scheduling Regular Teeth Cleanings We recommend you receive teeth cleanings every 6 months unless directed otherwise to protect your oral health. During a teeth cleaning, one of our dental hygienists will be able to gently scrape away plaque and tartar. Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental professional. Left untreated, tartar buildup increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 5. Limiting Sugary Foods and Drinks Do your teeth ever feel fuzzy or rough? If so, you may be leaving behind dental plaque on your teeth. Plaque loves to eat sugar and uses it to produce cavity-causing acid. You may feel plaque on your teeth a bit more after eating sugary foods. It’s important to check labels in the store since many foods we think are “healthy” aren’t good for your teeth. For example, some flavors of yogurt can have a lot of sugar. Likewise, sports drinks often contain more sugar than the average person would think. Limiting how much you consume sugary foods and drinks will make it easier for you to avoid certain oral health issues. Make an Appointment Our dentists in Hudsonville, MI, want to help you maintain a healthy smile. We offer teeth cleanings, oral examinations, and other preventive dentistry services to patients of all ages. To schedule an appointment at Hudsonville Dental, call (616) 209-4024. This blog post has been updated.