It is estimated that nearly 75% of American adults have tooth decay. Pediatric tooth decay is among the most widespread, preventable childhood diseases.
Even in an age of dental advancements, cavity-fighting toothpaste and mouthwash, floss and electric toothbrushes, cavities are still a major problem.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Cavities, or tooth decay, happens when there is an accumulation of food particles between teeth and along the gum line. The bacteria and germs in the food particles interact with your saliva to create plaque which tears down the enamel of teeth. The tooth enamel is the hard, clear outer layer of a tooth that protects it from harm.
When the enamel is weakened by plaque, additional germs and bacteria can infiltrate into the inside of the tooth, working its way to the pulp and root.
When adequate brushing and flossing aren’t practiced, more food particles can rot and eat away at tooth enamel.
Sugars and simple carbohydrates are the worst when it comes to producing plaque. When your mouth isn’t cleaned after meals or snacks, you increase your risk of cavities.
There are steps you can take to fight tooth decay and reduce your risk of getting cavities. Here are five such cavity fighters:
Drink More Water
Coffee, tea, juice, soda, energy drinks and sports drinks all contain sugar, caffeine and teeth staining acids that lead to tooth decay. Water is your one and only beverage that contains no teeth harming chemicals, sugars, preservatives or carbohydrates. Water also helps neutralize the acids and bacteria found in the mouth and is great for rinsing out your mouth when a toothbrush isn’t accessible.
If you must drink something other than water, rinse your mouth out with water afterwards. Drinking through a straw also lessens the amount of tooth exposure to the liquid, whereby decreasing the risks of cavities.
Eat Healthy Meals
Processed foods, candy, white bread, rice and noodles contain sugars and simple carbohydrates that when combined with the natural bacteria in your mouth, produce an acid that accumulates on the surface of teeth, eroding the enamel. If the acid is allowed to accumulate, it can turn into hard plaque.
Sticky and hard foods can leave food particles on and in between teeth that can be difficult to remove or may be so hard it can scratch tooth enamel and chip teeth. These weaken enamel that make teeth more susceptible to getting cavities.
Instead, a diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and reduced fat dairy products can protect and strengthen teeth that make them more resistant to cavities.
Snacking throughout the day without rinsing out the mouth will result in the collection of cavity-causing food particles.
Get a Good Toothbrush
A toothbrush should be replaced every three months. If you hold onto your toothbrush much longer, it will become less effective in cleaning your teeth. Toothbrushes with frayed bristles should be replaced as it is no longer effective in scraping off food particles off from the surfaces of teeth. Old toothbrushes can also get contaminated with food particles stuck in the bristles and germs from past colds.
Even a good toothbrush can’t get rid of food particles stuck in the tight spaces between teeth or the indentations of the tooth surface. Besides brushing your teeth twice a day, you need to floss at least once a day to prevent cavities.
Proper flossing technique can be time-consuming and may cause the gums to bleed at first, but it will get rid of the plaque causing debris that your brushing will likely miss.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing gum prompts saliva production, keeping your mouth moist. A moist mouth poses a more hostile environment for the accumulation of food particles. Your saliva is your body’s natural mouth cleaner and the more saliva that is produced, the cleaner your mouth will be.
When selecting a gum, make sure it is sugar-free. Chewing gum with sugar will negate the positive benefits of the gum.
Proper nutrition and oral hygiene care are essential in preventing the formation of cavities.
While cavities seem common place, they can easily worsen into tooth decay and gum disease as well as lost teeth if not treated.
It is also important to see a dentist at Family Dental Health Center twice a year. Our dentists will thoroughly clean your teeth and diagnose any possible dental concern you may not have noticed.
If it has been longer than six months since you’ve last seen a dentist, contact us today to set up an appointment and let us help you fight off cavities.