What oral hygiene habits do you have in place for cavity prevention? Tooth decay is the most widespread childhood disease there is. It affects millions of people, however, it’s completely avoidable. You may have even had a cavity yourself at one time or another. There are several ways to prevent cavities that you can implement every day. Learn tips for cavity prevention and also effective treatments to combat tooth decay that has already begun. Investing in proper dental care is the best way to reduce your risk for cavities and have them treated correctly before they become severe. Overall, cavity prevention really is easier than you think.
You may know cavities by some other names: tooth decay or dental caries. All of these terms mean the same thing, and that is the destruction of your tooth enamel. Sadly, cavities are quite easy to get. You can blame plaque for tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky acidic substance that is made from the sugars in the foods you eat that mix with your mouth bacteria. There are many bacteria strains in the mouth that are good for you and help your food digest. There are others that erode your teeth when they team up with sugar.
Plaque is a clear substance that will sit on your teeth as long as you let it. You may even be able to see some plaque now if you look in the mirror. Plaque coats the teeth as soon as it forms and works to eat away your hard tooth enamel. Enamel is naturally hard because it’s made of minerals such as calcium and phosphate. However, even the strongest materials can be weakened. Plaque weakens the enamel, eventually causing cracks that allow it to seep inside your tooth. There, that plaque will start to decay the tooth from the inside out. However, cavity prevention is quite easy. Plaque can’t damage your teeth if you get rid of it often enough.
You get rid of plaque through proper brushing and flossing. Both of these should be part of your daily oral hygiene routine. The American Dental Association recommends brushing the teeth at least twice a day. We second that recommendation but also encourage our patients to brush more often than that. Brush after every meal if you can! Doing so will lessen your chances for tooth decay and will aid you in cavity prevention.
Floss the teeth every day, as plaque and food particles can get in between the small gaps in your teeth. Between the teeth is a favorite spot for cavities to form. Cavity prevention here is easy with proper flossing. Make sure to scrape the teeth with your floss along the tooth surface to fully remove plaque. Some patients use mouthwash and fluoride as well to keep their teeth healthy and clean. With all product you use, make sure they have the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Only then can you be sure that all claims made on the label have been evaluated by professionals. Overall, proper oral hygiene habits are the #1 way to be successful in cavity prevention.
You can help keep your teeth healthier by eating right and giving your teeth the nutrients and minerals they need. We mentioned plaque and how it forms. Plaque must have sugar in order to thrive and cause tooth decay. The more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to have plaque. Children are prone to cavities because of sugar intake without brushing often enough. Fluoride can help reverse tooth decay and protect the teeth from cavities.
The ADA calls fluoride “nature’s cavity fighter”. Fluoride can work wonders for your teeth, especially if you are prone to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral found in many drinks and foods. In fact, many water sources in the United States have added fluoride to help people keep their teeth healthier and stronger. Fluoride helps to rebuild (remineralize) your tooth enamel when it’s been weakened by plaque. When you eat, your teeth are demineralized by sugars and bacteria. When you eat and drink properly, you can continually rebuild and remineralize the teeth. When you use fluoride products or drink fluoridated water, your teeth are bathed in fluoride, which acts as a barrier between your teeth and plaque.
You can have amazing hygiene, but still have cavities. How? Sometimes there are simply places that are hard-to-reach and are missed when you clean your teeth. Other times, weak enamel can cause the teeth to decay. Seeing the dentist at least biannually can help you avoid tooth decay or can help you stop it in its tracks if it’s already present. At our office, we can provide you a comprehensive exam and full dental cleaning every 6 months (or sooner). A comprehensive exam can detect cavities in their very earliest stages with laser cavity detection. A dental cleaning can remove plaque and stuck-on tartar that hurts your tooth enamel.
If you visit the dentist frequently, you can avoid most problems with tooth decay. Cavity prevention becomes easy if you have proper oral hygiene habits, you eat right, and you come into the office frequently. You only have one smile. Keep it healthy and prevent cavities before they become severe. If you are due for your exam and cleaning, call our Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies office today at (970) 223-8425.