What you can do for a healthy mouth Healthy habits can equal a healthy mouth. Here are some oral health tips to get you started: Brush your teeth at least twice a day Floss every day Visit your dentist for a dental exam and cleaning at least every 6 months, or as recommended Check your gums to make sure they’re pink and that the gum line hugs teeth tightly. Your gums should not bleed when you brush. Stop smoking. Smoking puts you at risk for oral cancer and infection. Common dental issues Bad Breath Causes of halitosis, or bad breath, include infrequent brushing and flossing, gum disease, dry mouth, smoking, and diet. You can combat chronic halitosis by using a tongue scraper, chewing sugarless gum, gargling with mouthwash, and drinking plenty of water. Always follow good oral hygiene guidelines, which include regular brushing and flossing. Halitosis is the third most frequent reason for seeing a dentist, after tooth decay and periodontal diseases. Cavities A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by decay. Cavities occur after decay has worn away the tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities is by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly. Eat healthy foods and avoid foods and beverages high in sugar. Dry Mouth Saliva is needed to help protect against cavities by washing away food debris and controlling bacteria in your mouth. Dry mouth is caused by the reduced flow of saliva. Symptoms of dry mouth include hoarseness, persistent sore throat, problems swallowing, and dry nasal passages. Certain medications and diseases can cause dry mouth. Smoking or chewing tobacco can aggravate dry mouth conditions. Gum Disease Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, can cause your gums to bleed or become infected, swollen, or tender. If the bacteria starts to affect the bone around your teeth, it can cause your teeth to loosen; this is irreversible. Gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, is usually painless, which means you may not be aware that you have it. Gum disease is the #1 cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. TMJ The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the bone on each side of the head and is stabilized by muscles that make it possible to open and close the mouth. Severe pain, discomfort, or tenderness in or around the joint is called TMJ or TMD disorder. Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include: Tenderness or pain in the face, jaw, and ear Chewing difficulty or discomfort Headaches Painful clicking of the jaw Difficulty opening or closing the mouth Locking jaw or teeth that don't come together properly while biting or chewing. Tooth Sensitivity Tooth sensitivity is very common and is often triggered by hot or cold beverages and foods, as well as sweets. Some people also notice sensitivity from brushing or flossing. It is often treated with fluoride treatments that can help strengthen the enamel and decrease your sensitivity. Tooth Erosion Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. If erosion is left untreated, it can cause pain, weakening of the tooth structure, tooth fractures, and tooth loss. To protect against tooth erosion, brush with a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, floss regularly, have regular dental cleanings and check-ups, and avoid sugary foods. Also, try using a straw when drinking carbonated beverages or other sweet drinks, such as natural fruit juices, which are very acidic and can wear away tooth enamel. Smoking Smokers and tobacco users are at greater risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease. In addition, tobacco products cause permanent stains, which cannot be removed by brushing, and it can also cause a heavy build-up of tartar, requiring more frequent dental cleanings.