Getting and keeping a healthy smile is easier than you might think.  You can keep your teeth and gums healthy by following these ten simple tips:

10. Eat right.  Avoiding very sugary, sticky foods like candy will certainly help keep your teeth and gums in better shape.  Sticky foods keep plaque on your teeth longer, and sugar gives plaque the fuel it needs to thrive.

9. Stay away from soft drinks.  Soft drinks are not only packed with the same sugar as candy, but even diet soft drinks can be harmful to your teeth because of the acid they contain.  Stick to unsweetened drinks when possible.

8. Drink lots of water.  Even the most careful eaters need a treat every once in a while.  If you need to fix that sweet tooth, be sure to follow your sweets with water.  Water will cleanse your mouth, remove debris, and balance your pH, therefore reducing your risk for cavities.

7.  Check for debris.  Speaking of food debris, get it out!  Always run your tongue across your teeth after eating to remove anything left behind.  This will also help prevent embarrassing moments of getting caught with spinach stuck in your teeth!

6.  Wipe them down.  Sometimes your teeth just feel grimy.  When you get that fuzzy feeling, it is likely due to excess plaque in your mouth.  Ideally, you should brush to remove this, but when a toothbrush is not convenient, take a clean towel across your smile.  This will not only prevent cavities and gum disease, but it will also make them shine and freshen your breath!

5.  Keep the floss handy.  Some foods simply won’t budge with the methods mentioned above.  That’s why it is so important to keep a small container of floss with you.  You’ll be glad you did next time you get one of those annoying pieces of popcorn stuck between your teeth.

4.  Use toothpicks.  Toothpicks are available at the front counter of almost any restaurant.  Grab one to run between your teeth and along your gumline after meals.  It will keep your mouth clean, and they are often flavored for an extra burst of minty freshness!

3.  Chew gum.  This may go against everything you heard as a child, but chewing sugarless gum is a great tool for keeping your mouth healthy.  Many brands on the market are made with xylitol, a sweetener proven to help reduce decay.

2.  Don’t let it linger.  If you need some caffeine to make it through your workday, be sure to drink it all at once.  Sipping on soft drinks or sweetened coffee throughout the day will increase exposure to sugar, but it will also keep the pH of your mouth below normal, thus increasing your risk for cavities.

1.  And finally, be sure to brush at least twice a day!  You have heard it a million times before, but the number one way to keep your mouth healthy is to keep it clean. So brush your teeth every morning and every evening!