1. Two-by-two

Plaque, the sticky bacteria that causes tooth decay and other problems, accumulates all over your teeth—the front, back, side, in-between and even under the gums. The problem is that plaque isn't very noticeable, so you may think your teeth are clean even when they're covered in plaque. Because of that, you really do need to brush two minutes, twice a day, as well as floss.

2. Drool is cool

When it comes to tooth decay, drool is actually cool. Saliva washes away food residue, has antibacterial properties, and neutralizes the acids that destroy enamel. If you have dry mouth, drink lots of water and consider a saliva-boosting mouth rinse.

3. Plaque doesn't rest

Even if you brush your teeth before bed, you still want to give them another cleaning after you wake up. Plaque coats your teeth at night, too. 

4. Bosses floss

Don't forget to floss. One-third of your teeth's surfaces are pressed against other teeth, so there's no way to reach them (or clean them) without flossing or using another interdental cleaner. 

5. Own up

If you haven't been flossing, you may be tempted to do it for a day or two before your appointment with the dentist. Don't. You'll irritate your gums and make the cleaning more uncomfortable—and your hygenist will still know you haven't been flossing.

6. When you're expecting

If you are pregnant, it's still safe to get x-rays taken. Whatever you do, be sure to go to the dentist while you're pregnant, because hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can lead to gum disease. 

7. Do it right

Flossing is important, but do floss correctly. Punching the floss up and down can cut your gums, which causes bleeding, swelling and irritation. 

8. Softer is better

Don't brush too hard — aggressive brushing can cause your gums to recede. Instead, brush with a soft toothbrush in gentle circles close to the gum line. 

9. Skip the sugar

Your mom was right—sweets really do promote tooth decay. When metabolized, sugary and starchy foods create an acid that attacks teeth. 

10. Fluoride matters

If you don't get fluoride from your drinking water or your toothpaste, you're 20 to 40 percent more likely to get cavities. 

11. Beating strong

Taking care of your teeth is important for your general health. Gum disease has been strongly linked to heart disease.