Cavities are practically a given today, and no age or ethnic group seems to be immune. They start when plaque, a sticky substance, forms on the teeth and combines with the sugars and starches in the foods we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel.

If we don’t develop a sensible daily dental health plan, the result can be cavities. Left too long, you can face tooth loss, root canal surgery and other problems. Here are some simple tips to avoid plaque and the cavities it can cause:

1. Brush regularly: Brush properly at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Make sure you brush long enough, in the right direction. Check with your dentist or dental hygienist about proper technique.

2. Floss daily: Food debris gets caught between our teeth when we eat. If the debris is not removed, it can lead to cavities. Flossing every day is the best way to remove such debris. Research shows that brushing and flossing also can lead to better heart health.

3. Eat right: Proper nutrition plays an important role in good dental health. Eating nutritional snacks and limiting sugary drinks helps prevent plaque from forming. Cut down on soda, artificial fruit juices and candy.

4. Visit your dentist: Many cavities can only be detected by a dentist or dental X-ray. Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings to prevent major oral issues.

5. Have sealants applied: Dental sealants are protective coatings applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants are most commonly used for children.

6. Use a mouth rinse: There are several antimicrobial mouth rinses on the market clinically proven to reduce plaque.

7. Chew (sugarless) gum: These can prevent cavities by increasing the flow of saliva.