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Adult Oral Health

woman brushing her teeth Almost all adults have problems with their teeth or gums at some point in their lives. The major threats to adult oral health are gum disease and tooth decay (cavities). In the US, about 9 in 10 adults have had tooth decay and about 1 in 4 adults have untreated tooth decay. Nearly half of adults have gum disease.
Tips for Good Oral Health
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride and a soft bristled toothbrush.
  • ► See how to brush your teeth and the right way to floss.

  • Floss daily. The spaces between your teeth or under your gums can’t be reached with a toothbrush.
  • Eat healthy. Limit the number of snacks throughout the day, and avoid sugary and starchy snacks.
  • Drink tap water. The fluoride in New York City’s tap water helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Avoid tobacco. Tobacco significantly increases the risk for gum disease and mouth and throat cancer. Talk to a doctor, call 311 or visit nycquits.org for help.
  • Limit alcohol. Heavy alcohol use increases the risk for mouth and throat cancer, especially when used in combination with tobacco. Call 311 or LifeNet (1-800-543-3638) for help.
  • Visit the dentist. Regular dental visits help to prevent oral diseases and diagnose problems early, when they are more easily treatable.
This table includes some of the major risk factors and their potential outcomes for adult oral health problems:
    risk factors chart

Last Updated: February 19, 2013