s your mouth a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria? You may be surprised to find out that despite your brushing and flossing regimen, it probably is. Take control of your dental health by checking out the top 5 things you can do to maintain a healthy smile. 1) Become a regula: Semi-annual visits to the dentist are crucial to maintaining your dental health. Not only does a regular tooth cleaning by a dental hygienist keep your smile bright, but it’s also an important preventative measure. Most dental issues will not become painful or noticeable until they are highly advanced, which means regular check-ups are critical to your dental health. Patient messaging systems like Smile Reminder make it easy for dentists to send appointment reminders and help patients make it to these all-important cleanings. Ask your dentist if he or she offers this service and make sure your contact information is always up-to-date. 2) Don’t believe the myths: Eating too much sugar is not the primary cause of cavities. It’s all about neutralizing pH levels in your mouth. The actual cause of cavities is a disease called dental caries, a bacterial infection that develops when your mouth becomes too acidic. Brushing and flossing alone will not prevent decay. In order to maintain healthy teeth one must fight the caries-causing bacteria by neutralizing pH levels in the mouth. An innovative line of products from CariFree, the first and only dental care company to use pH balancing technology to promote a healthy mouth, gives dentists the technology to assess caries risk, and gives patients the ability to manage their home care effectively with a full line of treatment and maintenance products. CariFree even offers an entire line for kids. 3) Chow down: There are a number of foods that fight caries-causing bacteria in the mouth. Cheese, celery, shitake mushrooms, onions and wasabi all fight these harmful bacteria. Pair these with a pH balancing maintenance program and you’ll be well on your way to a set of healthy teeth. 4) Drink up: Drinking plenty of water keeps your gums hydrated and stimulates the production of saliva, which in turn helps fight bacteria. Green tea is another superdrink which totes a number of health benefits, one of which is the catechins it contains that fight a number of different strands of bacteria. 5) Learn what xylitol is: Then make sure you’re getting plenty of it. Xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar that cannot be broken down by bacteria into harmful acid. It boasts a number of other smile-boosting benefits as well, such as protecting tooth enamel, preventing bacteria from adhering to teeth, and controlling the number of acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. You should shoot for 6-11 grams per day in the form of select fruits, chewing gums, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.