If you're reading these tips, then the advice to prevent cavities and tooth decay before they occur might be like telling someone to lock the barn door after the horse has run away. Still, in the long run, prevention -- including regular dental cleanings -- is far cheaper than the alternative.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, eating a balanced diet without excessive sugary snacking, and visiting your dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups [source: American Dental Association].
Are you thinking, "Yeah right! Every six months? Bring a toothbrush to work or school? It's not gonna happen." If so, you should consider the alternative: costly dental care.
In fact, if all you need is a cleaning, browse popular coupon Web sites where many dentists list deals as low as $19. Sites include Groupon, Coupons.com, or the recently launched Google Offers. Additional options for cheap, preventive care include dental and dental hygiene schools (you'll learn more about that in a few pages).
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