Cavity Prevention is Easier Than You Think
Did you know that tooth decay—or cavities—is the most “prevalent, chronic disease” according to the National Institutes of Health? The amount of children and adults alike that get tooth decay outweighs all the other types of disease and chronic conditions a person can develop. The crazy part is, most people don’t even realize that their cavities are actually considered to be a “disease”, nor do many people realize they even have cavities. Tooth decay is a 100% preventable condition with the right oral health habits. Cavity prevention involves some simple steps that make a not-so-simple difference in the health of your teeth and mouth.
Brush Your Teeth
When you eat, sugars in your food combine with bacteria in the mouth to form plaque. Your mouth makes this sticky, acidic substance every single time you eat. That means, the more sugar you eat, the more plaque you make. Plaque sits on your teeth because it’s so sticky and erodes your tooth enamel. If it sits there long enough, you will get cracks and open areas of your teeth, where plaque then gets inside your tooth and decays it. That decay is known as “cavities”, and cavities can lead to tooth loss.
Your gums also become irritated by acidic plaque, and will start to pull away from the teeth, leading to mushy, red and bleeding gums as well as tooth loss. The biggest way to prevent both of these issues is to brush your teeth! The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time to keep your teeth healthy. Brush after every meal for even better cavity prevention, and especially brush your teeth before bedtime, so that cavities can’t form overnight.
Use Fluoride Products
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral in the earth’s crust. In dental trials, it was found to act as a barrier between the teeth and acidic/sugary foods and drinks. Fluoride coats the teeth, helps them to remineralize, and diminishes damage caused by foods and drinks.
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association reports that fluoride was responsible for reducing tooth decay by 50-60% since World War II. This is because it was added to the public water supply to strengthen the teeth. If you want your teeth to be more resistant to the acid found in plaque, as well as erosion, use dental products with fluoride in them, or get a prescribed fluoride treatment from your dentist.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Did you know that flossing is integral to cavity prevention? So many people don’t floss, or don’t floss enough. However, studies show that about 40% of your tooth surfaces can’t be reached by simply brushing your teeth. That’s why you want to floss 1-2 times a day or after every meal to clean those areas of the mouth. Use new floss every time and floss all the way up in your gum line, making sure to gently scrape the teeth as you go.
Avoid Frequent Snacking
We mentioned brushing your teeth after every meal for great cavity prevention. This is what you definitely want to do if you are a frequent snacker. Snacking all day will continually expose your teeth to decay-causing plaque and acids. However, when you eat your 3-4 meals a day instead, you only have those times when sugars are hitting your teeth. For better cavity prevention, stick to set meals instead of all-day snacking.
Avoid Sugary Sweets and Drinks
Sugar is the main cause of cavities! Follow these tips for cavity prevention:
- Limit your sugar consumption each day. Men should have no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of sugar a day. Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams), children should stop at 6 grams and infants should have none.
- Avoid acidic drinks like juices and sodas. Sodas contain carbonic acid, which is an acid that erodes tooth enamel. It’s also full of sugar. Citrus drinks and juices contain citric acid as a preservative, which has the same effect. Sparkling water also contains carbonic acid.
- Avoid hard candies, chewy candies, suckers, taffys and other types of candies that stay on the teeth for long periods of time. These decay the teeth easier.
- If you drink carbonated, acidic, or sugary drinks, make sure you sip through a straw. This limits the drink’s contact with your teeth.
Eat Tooth-Healthy Foods
Some foods are great for the teeth, and those are ones that have minerals such as calcium and phosphate. Look for dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs to help with cavity prevention. These foods will remineralize the teeth when you eat them, building them up stronger.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
What is the best way to prevent tooth decay from happening? Good oral hygiene! In fact, if you practice good oral hygiene, then you can potentially avoid tooth decay for your entire life. You can also avoid problems such as gum disease, which affects more than 64 million American adults.
We can detect the presence of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems if you’re visiting the dentist regularly. The ADA and other experts recommend visiting the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. So many individuals fear the dentist because of the thought of shots and drills. Only 65% of people are visiting the dentist each year, and only once instead of twice. Exams and dental cleanings are non-invasive, don’t hurt and are the easiest dental services you can get. They are key in preventing tooth decay and gum health issues that would actually make you need dental work.
Cavity prevention is super simple if you visit the dentist and follow all of our tips. For more ways to keep your cavity prevention top-notch, call Dr. Ania’s office office at (303) 872-9940!