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Many American children and adults have had a cavity in their lifetime, and many of those cavities often go untreated. Cavities develop with the wearing-away of enamel and the lack of brushing and flossing, causing bacteria to develop and deteriorate the structure of the tooth. Cavities are prevalent, but cavities are also preventable. Here are five tips to help you prevent cavities in your family:

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating calcium-rich foods like milk and other dairy products can help promote healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Eating raw fruits and vegetables cleans plaque off the teeth and protects gums from damage and infection.

2. Brush Regularly
Children and adults should brush their teeth at least twice per day for two minutes each. If possible, brushing and flossing should also be done after eating meals. At the very least, you should rinse your mouth out with water after eating a meal in order to prevent pieces of food and bacteria from getting stuck in the teeth and causing a cavity.

3. Replace Soda with Water
Most public water has fluoride in it, preventing cavities and tooth decay. Frequently drinking soda can cause acid build-up on the teeth, increasing chance of cavity development. Drinking soda through a straw can help prevent cavities if you don’t let the straw touch the teeth. The best defense against cavities comes from not drinking soda at all.

4. Consider Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are a plastic coating placed on the back teeth, preventing bacteria from entering the tooth and developing a cavity. Since back teeth are used to chew food, the sealants are placed on the back teeth to seal off grooves that may collect food, plaque, and acid.

5. Decrease Sugar Intake
Limiting the amount of sugar you eat will help limit the number of potential cavities. Replacing sugar-dense food and drinks with whole foods and water prevents tooth decay and premature tooth loss.