11 Tips to prevent tooth decay
If you’ve experienced a dental cavity, join most of us. A dental cavity, also called tooth decay, is one of the most unmet health treatment needs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, the CDC reports that 57% of adolescents aged 12 to 19, and approximately 90% of adults have had at least one cavity. In this article we will spill some important tips on how to prevent tooth decay.
11 Tips for preventing tooth decay
Drink fluoridated water
Fluoridated water plays a key role in keeping your teeth healthy and lowering your risk of developing tooth decay. Most cities have fluoridated their public water supply, as it is noted as one of the 10 public health achievements of the 20th century according to the CDC. Fluoride helps remineralize teeth and can even help reverse early tooth decay. In addition, drinking tap water helps promote saliva production that washes away bacterial dental plaque and neutralizes harmful acids.
Avoid frequent snacking
Snacking can be a negative habit for oral health. The more frequently snacking occurs, the greater the opportunity for bacteria to wreak havoc on the sugars and foods consumed. In turn, the bacteria produce acids that break down tooth enamel. If you do indulge in a snack, try to opt for healthy tooth-friendly foods like cheese, nuts, and crunchy vegetables.
Consult with the dentist regularly
Catching tooth decay early can help save you from a lot of future issues. When tooth decay progresses without being treated, this can lead to the need for large dental fillings, veneers, root canals, crowns, or even tooth extractions. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of tooth decay. Your dental professionals will offer you the best recommendations to help you maintain a healthy smile.
Eat healthy foods
A healthy smile requires a healthy diet. One of the main causes of tooth decay is bacterial dental plaque, which thrives on sugars/carbohydrates. Do your best to limit sugary and acidic foods and beverages. Try to implement healthy balanced meals with essential vitamins and nutrients to help your teeth fight against tooth decay.
Consider fluoride treatments
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is known to fight tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel. Your dental professional may recommend professional in-office fluoride treatments, such as fluoride varnish. Fluoride can also be found in many over-the-counter hygiene products including toothpaste and mouth rinses.
Nutritious and balanced meals
Nutritious and balanced meals can help protect your smile against tooth decay. This includes foods like cheese, dairy, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and fish.
Dental sealants act as a protective covering that is brushed onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to help prevent tooth decay. Speak to your dental professional to see if you are a good candidate for dental sealants.
Reduce sugary and acidic drinks
Try to stay away from sugary and acidic beverages, which can wear down your tooth enamel. Sodas, energy drinks, and other high sugar and acidic drinks significantly increase your risk of developing tooth decay and can remove protective minerals from the teeth. If you do go for a sweet drink, drink through a straw to help reduce the exposure to your teeth.
Smoking is a harmful habit to your overall health and the health of your pearly whites. Those who smoke are at an increased risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, and a whole host of other oral issues. Your dental professionals can help provide you with the resources and support to help you quit smoking.
Flossing is a key part of a good oral hygiene routine. It is important to floss at least once a day to remove bacterial dental plaque and food debris from in-between your teeth, which regular tooth brushing alone cannot accomplish.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Sugarless chewing gum has been found to lower the risk of developing tooth decay, as it increases protective salivary production. Saliva contains essential minerals including fluoride, calcium, and phosphate which help promote the remineralization of tooth enamel. Saliva also helps neutralize acids in foods or drinks.
What Causes Tooth Decay
Tooth decay commonly develops when dental plaque is not removed from the teeth. As a result, the oral bacteria within the sticky plaque feed off the food debris left on the teeth and start to produce harmful acids. These acids create holes within the tooth enamel and begin the tooth decay process. Overtime, the decay can travel and reach the inner layers of the tooth, including the dentin and tooth pulp. This often causes pain and sensitivity.
What are the symptoms and causes
The signs and symptoms of tooth decay tend to vary, depending on the extent of the decay. Signs and symptoms in the early stages of tooth decay may be minimal but can progressively become prominent with time. Common symptoms and signs include spontaneous toothaches, tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, visible holes in the tooth enamel, tooth staining (brown, black, or white discoloration), pain when chewing, among many other issues.
Types of cavity
There are three common types of cavities. A smooth surface cavity occurs on the front or back surfaces of the teeth. This type of cavity often takes a long time to develop and is typically easily treatable. Second, root cavities develop on the surface of the roots of teeth. Root cavities are often more susceptible to tooth decay and it can spread quickly if untreated, as the roots are not as strong as tooth enamel. Lastly, pit and fissure cavities occur on the biting surfaces of teeth. If caught early, these cavities can be removed without significant tooth enamel removal.
Regular Dental Checkups
Regular dental check-ups are necessary to spot any oral issue including cavities early on before worsening, and to treat any existing problems. According to the CDC, untreated cavities can even be life-threatening, as it can lead to a dental abscess infection underneath the gums which can spread to other parts of the body. Your dental professionals are trained to diagnose and treat oral diseases so that you can maintain a healthy smile to last you a lifetime!
There are many simple ways to help reduce your risk of developing dental cavities. Implement healthy lifestyle habits such as staying hydrated with fluoridated water, maintain a healthy diet, brush and floss daily, and chew sugar free gum. Avoid not-so-friendly tooth habits including smoking, frequent snacking, and consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages. Be sure you are scheduling your regular dental check-ups and completing the necessary treatment that is recommended by your dental professional. They may recommend dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and other preventative measures to help protect you from tooth decay.