Cavities. You’ve heard the word your whole life, and you know it’s not good to have them, but what exactly are cavities, and how do they form?
Here it is in a nutshell: The bacteria, acids, and food debris in your mouth combine with your saliva to form plaque. That plaque sticks to your teeth, and left unchecked, the acids in plaque dissolve the enamel. Cavities, also called dental caries, are the permanently damaged areas in teeth caused by this process.
Now that you know what they are and how they form, read these 7 tips to prevent cavities – and then take action to keep your teeth cavity-free.
Brush your teeth to prevent cavities
Brush your teeth at least twice a day – with fluoride toothpaste. Brushing between meals is a great idea too, as long as you use a soft-bristled brush so you don’t damage your gums.
Rinse with mouthwash to prevent cavities
Using fluoride mouthwash will help to keep your teeth strong and healthy. If you use one with antiseptic properties, you’ll also kill the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
Rinse your mouth after meals to prevent cavities
Even if you don’t brush your teeth after every single meal, rinsing your mouth with water will help wash away food particles and acids that cause plaque and lead to tooth decay.
Drink tap water to prevent cavities
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first community in the United States to add fluoride to the water supply to help prevent tooth decay. As of 2012 (the latest date available for statistics), nearly 211 million people in the United States live in communities with fluoridated water supplies. Check to see if your community’s water supply is fluoridated. If not, talk to your dentist about fluoride supplements.
Consider dental sealants to prevent cavities
Dental sealants, a protective coating over the chewing surfaces of your molars, help prevent tooth decay and other dental issues by sealing off the nooks and crannies where food can become trapped.
Eat foods that promote dental health to prevent cavities
Cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, celery, green tea, sesame seeds, chicken, beef, eggs, onions, milk, and yogurt all have specific properties that help promote dental health. For more information on how these foods help, read 10 Foods That Improve Dental Health.
Visit your dentist regularly to prevent cavities
Your biannual visits to the dentist play a bigger role than you may think. You know you get your teeth cleaned, tartar removed, and X-rays taken, but your dentist is also keeping an eye on your gums and teeth and watching for any changes that could signal problems with your oral health.
Need more information on cavity prevention?
At Town Center Dentistry in Rancho Bernardo, we’re always available to answer questions about dental health. Give us a call. The way we see it, the more you know about maintaining proper oral health, the easier our jobs are!