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Cavities and tooth decay are among the world’s most common health problems. Cavities are especially common in children and teenagers, but adults are in no way immune to falling prey to tooth decay.
If you feel like you can’t escape a cleaning or check-up from your dentist without hearing the words filling or decay, it’s time to examine your oral hygiene habits and give your teeth some extra effort.
Check Your Habits & Health Against These Tooth Decay Risk Factors
While everyone is at risk of developing cavities, there are certain factors that play a role in those who seem more susceptible to dental decay.
If you don’t clean your teeth, or clean them properly, after eating and drinking, plaque begins to form quickly on your teeth and begins the first stage of decay.
Frequent Snacking and Sipping
When you are consistently eating or drinking throughout the day, you’re enabling the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that attack your teeth and wear down your enamel. Sipping soda or other sugary drinks gives your teeth a sugar bath with every sip.
Eating Certain Foods
A diet that consists of foods that cling to your teeth for a long time like milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, dried fruits, nuts, cereals and other starches will quickly cause tooth decay because of the ways these foods linger on your teeth until they’re brushed, flossed, or rinsed away.
The saliva in your mouth prevents tooth decay by washing away food and plaque from your teeth. When you experience dry mouth, you’re experiencing a lack of saliva which helps to wash away acids and bacteria from your teeth. Certain medications and medical conditions put you at risk of developing dry mouth.
Lack of Fluoride
Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth decay. Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride and partnering it with a mouth rinse helps give your teeth an extra fluoride boost.
Making Daily Life Cavity-Proof
There are several simple ways you can help prevent cavities.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for a full two minutes focusing on brushing each individual tooth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
- Floss at least once a day to clean between your teeth and dislodge any left behind foods that can lead to a cavity. Don’t skip the floss!
- Rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing mouthwash that will help restore your tooth enamel and kill plaque causing bacteria.
- Keep both your body and your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Water also helps to create saliva, your body’s natural defense against plaque.
- Give up smoking or other tobacco use that is directly linked to poor oral hygiene
- Visit your dentist every 6 months for cleanings and an exam to stay ahead of cavities before they turn into larger, more expensive issues
- Eat a balanced diet and avoid starches and sugars that stick to the surface of your teeth long after you’ve finished eating.
- If you’re unable to brush after a snack or meal, always rinse your mouth with water immediately after to help wash away some of the left behind food and sugars.
Chew The Right Gum
Studies are showing us that chewing gum that contains Xylitol temporarily reduces the growth of bacteria that causes tooth decay. Chewing sugarfree gum also helps to increase the natural saliva production in your mouth that helps to rinse your teeth while chewing.
Fighting Back Against a Sweet Tooth
If you’re someone who likes to indulge in a sweet tooth, give your teeth an extra boost to help fight cavities from your sugar addiction by:
- Brushing your teeth often, especially after indulging in a sugary treat
- Change your toothbrush every 3 months
- Use a rinse to remove left behind sugar and sticky residue
- Try satisfying your sweet tooth with natural sugars found in fruits that are less likely to cling to your teeth and their surfaces.
The key to preventing cavities is to focus on taking proper care of your teeth. Scheduling regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Baudean (and keeping them!) is going to allow us to work together in taking control over cavities so you can walk out of our office with a clean, cavity free smile.