(HealthDay News) -- The best way to prevent gingivitis (gum disease) is to practice good dental hygiene. It's never too early to start in life, because children as young as 6 can develop gum disease.

In addition to brushing at least twice daily and flossing at least once each day, the Mayo Clinic suggests these tips to keep your family's gums healthy:

  • Choose the right toothbrush. Select a toothbrush with soft, end-rounded or polished bristles -- stiff or hard bristles are more likely to injure your gums. Some dentists recommend electric toothbrushes with rotating or vibrating bristles because they may be more effective at removing plaque and maintaining healthy gum tissue.
  • Brush as if your teeth depended on it. To clean outer surfaces of your teeth and gums, use short, back-and-forth, and then up-and-down strokes. Use vertical strokes to clean inner surfaces. To clean the junction between your teeth and gums, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth.
  • Floss. If you're like most people, this is the part that's usually ignored. A good alternative for non-flossers is an antiseptic mouthwash, but it will work best when combined with brushing and flossing.
  • See your dentist. Be sure to go for regular checkups and cleanings.