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Why do some teeth decay more quickly than others?

How to Keep the Teeth You Love
Floss and you'll be boss ... like this guy.
Floss and you'll be boss ... like this guy.

When you were a kid, did your dentist have goofy office signs telling you how to hold on to your teeth? Signs like a picture of an old man with a toothless grin, and a caption reading, "If you got 'em, floss 'em" or the phrase, "Brush and floss and you'll be boss" might make you smile, but they also offer the best advice for how to keep the teeth you were born with.

Parents can ensure infants keep their baby teeth by not giving little ones a bottle to suck on as they go to sleep. The loss of baby teeth can cause problems for adult teeth in two ways [source: ADA]:

  • A sugary snack at night can become a habit, which can continue into adulthood leading to decay in adult teeth.
  • Baby teeth act as space holders for adult teeth. If decay leads to baby teeth being pulled, adult teeth can come in crooked or misaligned.

Once kids are older, teach them how to care for their teeth. These tips, when followed throughout life, can help ensure a mouthful of healthy teeth well into old age [source: Mayo Clinic]:

  • Brush after every meal or at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Replace your toothbrush every couple of months or if the bristles are worn. or flat. A misshapen toothbrush can't effectively clean your teeth [source: ADA].
  • If you are at high risk of cavities, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.
  • Drink tap water, which, in the United States and many other countries, contains fluoride. Most bottled waters do not.
  • Don't snack or sip on sugary drinks all day. Doing this keeps the acidic bacteria in your mouth that leads to tooth decay.
  • See your dentist regularly to learn what other treatments might be best for your mouth.

The next page contains links to a lot more information about ways to fight tooth decay. Here's to a healthy and happy mouth!