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Five tips to keep teeth clear of cavities

Friday - 6/15/2012, 7:15am  ET

WASHINGTON - Sometimes it's good to get a helpful reminder, or maybe even some new information, on how to care for our teeth.

Yahoo! Health and U.S. News & World Report have compiled a list of five mistakes to avoid to prevent cavities.

  • Put down the bottle: Water is way better for your teeth than sugary and acidic drinks, but bottled water may not be as good for your teeth as what comes straight from the tap. Many communities have fluoridated water. Fluoride can help prevent and reverse tooth decay. Plus, filling a reusable bottle from the tap is better for the environment.

  • Cut the colas: Sugar is bad for teeth and so is citric acid. The preservative can erode tooth enamel - which can never be replaced. In addition, even though diet drinks lack sugar, they're still acidic.

  • Snack attack: Chewing stimulates salivary flow, which then helps neutralize acid and rinse away food, says the American Dental Association. However, snacking on foods means saliva is only being produced for a short time and may not rinse away food and acid left on teeth. Constant snacking is bad too, because there's not enough time for the mouth to clean teeth naturally before more food is introduced.

  • Brush better: Don't brush your teeth right after you eat. The mouth needs time to wash away acids on the teeth. Brushing too soon may work the acids into teeth, making them weaker. Wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing.

  • Easy does it Use a soft-bristled brush and don't go too fast. Take time and make sure you get all surfaces, back and front included, and don't forget to floss.

For more information, visit Yahoo! Health.

WTOP's Del Walters contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)