It’s no surprise that movies and TV shows often depict dental procedures as terrifying. The drills and array of sharp instruments on display in the exam room wouldn’t look out of place in a horror flick. Luckily, thanks to technological advances in dentistry, root canals and cavity fillings are rather comfortable procedures these days. But that doesn’t mean you should be any less consistent and thorough with your oral health routine.
Left untreated, cavities can lead to serious dental diseases, so to prevent them (and their resulting damage), here are the top 10 ways to keep your smile bright and healthy by avoiding cavities.
Tip 1: Brush and floss—the right way
Brushing twice a day and regular flossing is standard oral health advice, but you won’t get all the benefits of the routine if you’re doing it wrong. Brush with fluoride toothpaste in up-and-down or circular motions on all surfaces of your teeth and along the gum line. The gum line is also where you should concentrate your flossing efforts, not just between the teeth.
Tip 2: Use mouthwash to prevent cavities
Mouthwashes do a decent job of reducing plaque, but their antibacterial properties are where they really shine. Left untouched, bacteria hiding in inaccessible places will mix with saliva and food debris to form the plaque that leads to cavities. A good antibacterial mouthwash will kill and wash away harmful bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Tip 3: Embrace fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel
If you’re at high risk for developing cavities, your dentist might recommend a mouth rinse with fluoride to use after brushing once a day. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, which decreases the risk of tooth decay. It’s also available in the tap water available in many cities and towns. So if you primarily drink bottled water, don’t forget to chug a glass or two from the tap every day to get the full fluoride benefits.
Tip 4: Rinse after meals to clean your teeth
Ideally, it’s best to brush your teeth after every meal, not just in the morning and at night. But because most people don’t carry toothbrushes and toothpaste around all day, that can be difficult advice to follow. At the very least, rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water after every meal. This will neutralize the effect of acidic and sugary foods, and rinse away food particles left behind.
Tip 5: Avoid frequent snacking to avoid cavities
Every time you eat or drink anything but water, bacteria are introduced to create acids that can destroy your tooth enamel. The more you snack and drink throughout the day, the more your teeth are under attack. If possible, keep eating limited to meals and between-meal beverages limited to water. Another option is snacking on foods that help clean teeth, such as apples, carrots, and celery.
Tip 6: Watch what you eat
Foods that are unhealthy for your body are usually unhealthy for your teeth as well. Sugary foods create more cavity-causing acids. Starchy foods can leave a bacteria-friendly residue behind. And foods that get stuck in the grooves and pits of your teeth for long periods, like chips and candy, also increase your cavity risk. On the other hand, foods like fresh fruits and vegetables increase saliva flow to wash away bacteria and acids—and they’re good for your overall nutrition as well. Believe it or not, cheese helps protect your teeth from acids.
Tip 7: Watch what you drink
Sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, tea, and sweetened coffee are heaven for cavity-causing bacteria. Water’s always best, but if you refuse to give up your morning latte or caffeinated soda boost in the afternoon, at least rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Tip 8: Chew xylitol gum to clean your teeth and reduce oral bacteria
Normally, dentists advise against chewing gum because it introduces sugars for an extended period of time, but gum that contains xylitol is different. Not only is it sugar-free, but studies have also shown that xylitol reduces oral bacteria. The American Dental Association even gave some xylitol-containing gum brands the seal of approval for their ability to help prevent cavities.
Tip 9: Consider dental sealants to protect teeth
Whether you’re especially prone to cavities or you simply want maximum protection for your teeth, consider having dental sealants applied by your dentist. Sealants are protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of your molars to block plaque, acid and oxygen from reaching the enamel.
Tip 10: Visit your dentist regularly
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are great habits to maintain on your own, but nothing compares to the deep cleaning and thorough exam provided by dental professionals. Most dentists recommend visits every six months, but patients with a history of frequent cavities might need to go in more often.
Due for a dental visit? Give us a call!
At Town Center Dentistry in Rancho Bernardo, we want you to show off a clean, bright, cavity-free smile after every visit. If it’s been six months or more since your last appointment and you haven’t scheduled your routine checkup, follow Tip 10 and give us a call today.