When it comes to your oral health, there’s a lot more to consider than you might think. For young adults, it’s common to have a lot on the go at once. However, taking a moment to check in on your teeth requires more than just giving your smile a quick look in the mirror. It requires you to take a look at your entire routine — the beverages you drink, your diet, and perhaps the state of your toothbrush — to get a clear perspective. We’re all busy people, and oftentimes there are a lot of items on the to-do list, many of which probably seem more important than teeth and gums. However, if you don’t make time for your oral health now, you may eventually be forced to make time for toothaches, cavities, or worse. That’s why it’s important to make these practices part of your routine today. Just as you make time for a jog or a bike ride for your physical health, your teeth deserve some love too. They work hard for you, after all — nibbling, chewing, and looking good doing it. All you have to do is take a look at the tips below and make them part of your commitment to healthy, happy teeth for life.

First, let’s talk about food. From work to dinner dates to ice cream outings with friends, it’s possible that your diet may not always be consistent or optimal for perfect oral health. Treats are certainly okay to have every now and then, but it’s important to limit processed food and sugar intake to mealtimes, rather than in between. Saliva production helps combat tooth decay while you’re eating a meal, so with that, the effects of unhealthy foods are less damaging. If you’re going to have dessert, try to have it right after dinner, in order to get the benefits of saliva production. However, as often as you can, choose teeth-friendly snacks like cheese, natural yogurt, fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, and whole-grain bread.

Now, drinks. If you love a pick-me-up (or several) during the day, you might want to choose wisely. Some caffeinated beverages are worse for your teeth than others. Green tea, for example, is a better choice than coffee for its antioxidant properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the gums. Black tea and coffee are known to stain your teeth over time. Energy drinks should be avoided for their high sugar content and acidity. And we probably don’t have to tell you about the harmful effects of soda. Ultimately, the best choice for your teeth is always water. If you must have that coffee in the morning, brush your teeth right afterward to avoid permanent stains to your teeth. Or, if that’s not an option, swish your mouth with some water.

And, finally, your habits. Friends come and go, but you only get one set of adult teeth — isn’t that how the saying goes? Take good care of them, so they can take good care of you. Replace that toothbrush every three months, or when the bristles appear “shaggy” or frayed. It’s especially important to replace your brush after you’ve been sick. Choose a brush that has soft bristles and toothpaste with fluoride. Remember to floss once daily, and carefully. If you smoke cigarettes, consider the options that can help you kick the habit for good. If you drink, limit your intake and have a glass of water in between. And definitely schedule those bi-annual checkups with your dentist to ensure that your smile is in great shape. Be wise and use preventative care — don’t wait until there’s an ache to cure or a problem to solve.