Did you know that more than 92% of people over age 20 have had tooth decay during their life? This may involve one simple cavity or complete tooth loss, which also affects millions of people. Cavity prevention involves some simple steps that make a not-so-simple difference in the health of your teeth and mouth. Use some of these tips to prevent cavities now and throughout the rest of your life!
The New York Post reports that “millennials are terrible at keeping their teeth clean.” In a survey of over 2,000 people, only 3 in 10 were brushing their teeth at least once a day. Many were going several days between brushing the teeth. It’s no wonder so many adults over 20 have tooth decay! The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day to prevent cavities from forming. You can also brush your teeth after every meal if you want to really get a leg up on your oral health.
Brush for 2 minutes, every time you brush and make sure you are using toothpaste and other oral health products that have the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. This means that the products have been tested and found effective at preventing tooth decay and oral health disease, plus they are safe for consumption. Brush your teeth especially at night before bed so bacteria doesn’t have time to decay the teeth during the night. Brush your tongue to remove decay-causing bacteria, which also contributes to bad breath.
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that you should highly consider adding to your daily oral hygiene routine. This is a mineral found in the earth’s crust and throughout nature. When used in dental trials in the 1930s, it was found to significantly help prevent cavities. Fluoride was so helpful, in fact, that it is added to the public water supply throughout the 50 states. That at least provides everyone with some level of protection against tooth decay.
Fluoride helps create a barrier between your teeth and acids from plaque and harmful bacteria. If it’s on your teeth, it’s as if they are coated in a protective layer against erosion and demineralization (losing minerals in your teeth). If you are prone to cavities, your dentist might recommend you use mouthwash with added fluoride, or that you use a prescription fluoride treatment to prevent cavities.
What is a cavity and how does it form anyways? Many people know that cavities are bad and that they hurt the teeth, but they’re not exactly sure what they are. When you eat, sugars mix with bacteria in your mouth to form a sticky, transparent substance that we call plaque. That plaque is acidic and will wear away your teeth. Your mouth makes this after everything you eat, so getting rid of plaque is a constant struggle. That plaque sticks to your tooth surface despite you drinking water or rinsing your mouth out.
Certain foods and drinks are acidic and acids wear away tooth minerals, causing staining, tooth sensitivity and fast decay. Watch out for citrus in both fruit and drinks, as it comes from citric acid. Juices contain this acid as well, which is why you want to stick to drinking milk and water if you can. Sodas contain carbonic acid, which also decays the teeth.
When choosing foods, try to keep a diet high in protein, fruits and veggies, as well as about ½ your body weight in ounces to stay hydrated. Avoid chewy and hard candies, as these can either break the teeth, or sugars will stick to the teeth for long periods of time. This is an issue because the more sugar you eat, the more plaque your mouth makes that might stick to your teeth.
Dairy products are great choices for the teeth, as they contain the same types of minerals as the teeth do: calcium and phosphate. When you eat or drink dairy, your teeth can absorb some of those minerals, building them back up once more. When it comes to your teeth, you can help prevent cavities simply by the low-sugar and acid-containing food choices you make.
Visiting the dentist should be done at least twice a year if your teeth and gums are healthy. That means scheduling dental cleanings and exams every 6 months with a reputable dentist. If you know you have tooth decay or gum disease already, you may need to visit the dentist every 3-4 months to keep on top of the oral issues.
These two visits a year are covered by most insurances, as dental cleanings and exams are basic services every person needs to prevent cavities. During a dental exam, you’ll receive diagnostic and preventive services from your dentist and necessary education to care for your teeth and gums. This includes:
If you follow all of our tips to prevent cavities, but you want extra protection between visits, consider dental sealants. This is a thin, plastic coating we can paint straight on the teeth to seal them from decay-causing sugars and acids. It’s a great way to help children, teens, and adults alike from always getting cavities. For your free consultation, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!