The best way to prevent periodontitis is to follow a program of good oral hygiene, one that you begin early and practice consistently throughout life. That means brushing your teeth at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Better yet, brush after every meal or snack or as your dentist recommends.

A complete cleaning with a toothbrush and floss should take three to five minutes or so. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.

Also, see your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having dry mouth, taking certain blood pressure medications or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often.

Feb. 04, 2014