How to Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay
Protecting your oral health is often underestimated. The truth is when it comes to bacteria, the mouth serves as the gateway to the rest of your body by way of the digestive and respiratory tract. Under normal circumstances, you can keep bacteria levels at bay between the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care. But when proper oral hygiene doesn’t occur, that very bacteria can lead to oral infections, including tooth decay (or cavities) and gum disease.
When cavities are left untreated, they can lead to sensitivity, pain, infections, and in the worst of cases, tooth loss. The best way to keep your teeth healthy is to take steps to prevent tooth decay and cavities by showing your smile some love. If you want to protect your mouth and your smile, then check out this list of 10 ways to present cavities and tooth decay.
1. Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
Let’s be honest. To best decrease your risks of developing cavities and tooth decay, you need to brush your teeth twice a day, especially after meals. But not all kinds of toothpaste are the same. Toothpastes that contain fluoride help prevent cavities in both children and adults. The Valley Dental Clinic team recommends that patients brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste to help strengthen weak spots and exposed roots and prevent the early stages of tooth decay. However, be sure to supervise young children when they’re brushing their teeth to ensure they do not swallow excess toothpaste.
2. Visit your dentist regularly.
Though brushing twice a day, flossing at least once, and rinsing once a day with a fluoridated mouthwash are critical components to your daily oral hygiene regimen, it’s sometimes not enough to keep those cavities at bay. So make sure you pay a visit to your dentist every six months if you have gum disease. Visiting the dentist regularly can save you money by helping you avoid future dental procedures that you could have otherwise avoided. And thorough cleaning from a dental professional can help improve your smile and prevent plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease.
3. Drink plenty of water.
You’ve probably heard it from your doctor too: drink more water. And it’s true! As adults, the adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. Water is necessary to keep our bodies running efficiently and effectively. But when it comes to our teeth, water is essential too. Water washes away leftover food and residue that cavity-causing bacteria love to eat. These bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar and produce acid that wears away dental enamel. So the more water you drink, the better it is for your teeth. So whenever possible, drink a glass of water with your meal to help wash away those food particles.
4. Eat crunchy fruits and veggies.
Though many veggies are good for your teeth because they require ample chewing, which helps clean tooth surfaces, crunchier veggies also contain water, which helps wash away food particles. Not only that, but crunchy veggies also stimulate saliva production, which aids in washing away that nasty bacteria. So the next time you chomp down on some celery, apples, pears, cucumbers, or carrots, know that you are doing great things for your mouth and body.
5. Avoid acidic foods.
Though you should try to eat more crunchy fruits and vegetables, there are some foods you should avoid. Acidic foods increase the risk of tooth erosion. Therefore, the team at Valley Dental Clinic in Wasilla, Alaska, suggests that you avoid or limit your consumption of acidic foods such as lemon juice, soda, sports drinks, powdered fruit drinks, flavored tea, flavored water, apple juice, and orange juice.
6. Avoid frequent snacks and sipping.
If you are like many people, you like to have a beverage around at all times. And if that is water, then that’s a good solution. But when we keep other drinks around, especially those acidic beverages we mentioned previously, it encourages bacteria production and tooth erosion. Aside from that, frequent snacking isn’t much better. Not only can frequent snacking wreak havoc on your waistline, anytime you snack on sugary or starchy foods, the sugar and starch combine with the bacteria in your mouth and form acids that wear down your dental enamel.
7. Avoid sugary foods.
It may seem like we are telling you to avoid all of the fun foods, but really, that isn’t the case. When consumed in moderation and combined with a good oral hygiene regimen, you can indeed eat what you want. But we’re here to let you know that sugary foods aren’t the best for your body in general. Sugar affects your body’s ability to function well. Not only that, excess sugar in your diet can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. So if you are trying to limit the number of bad foods you put in your body, starting with sugar is a good choice.
8. Chew sugar-free gum.
If giving up snacking is a challenge for you, try chewing on some sugar-free gum. Not only can this help you curb your cravings for a snack, but sugar-free gum also helps your mouth create more saliva. And with that additional saliva, your body can better clean plaque and bacteria from the surface of your teeth and gums. Chewing sugar-free gum is also a great way to clean your mouth after a meal on the go, especially if brushing your teeth at that time isn’t possible.
9. Drink from a straw.
If you choose to drink carbonated beverages, it is best if you consume them with a straw. As we already mentioned, drinking sweetened soda beverages aren’t the best for your teeth due to their sugar content. However, even sparkling water or sugar-free sodas containing carbonated water can weaken dental enamel over time. So, if you choose to consume a carbonated drink of any kind now and again, do so with a drinking straw rather than from a cup or glass itself. This will help the liquid bypass your teeth and do less damage.
10. Consider sealants or fluoride treatments.
A standard recommendation from dentists is for patients to get sealants or fluoride treatments. Dental sealants and fluoride treatments protect your teeth from tooth decay that leads to cavities or caries. Dental sealants are thin, clear plastic coatings that shield your natural teeth from food particles and bacteria. In addition, sealants are commonly used to protect the chewing surfaces of your molars and premolars.
On the other hand, though fluoride occurs naturally in water, sometimes we do not get enough of it (especially if we drink bottled water instead of tap water). For this reason, some patients may need an extra boost of fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office. Although they’re more often suggested for children, dental sealants and fluoride treatments are beneficial for adults as well.
Prevent cavities and tooth decay by scheduling your dental cleaning today.
Despite our best efforts, even if we follow all of the above suggestions, cavities can still happen. This means that keeping up with cleanings and checkups is of the utmost importance. A thorough examination by your dentist can help you catch problems early so you can avoid the additional expense and potential tooth loss due to cavities and tooth decay.
If you are overdue for a dental cleaning, now is the time to get it on the calendar. Please request an appointment with Valley Dental Clinic using our online form or give our office a call. We look forward to seeing you.