Avoid these 9 Behaviors to Prevent Cavities
Chances are, if you are an American adult, you’ve experienced at least one dental cavity affect your permanent teeth. This is because cavities are one of the most common infectious diseases after the common cold. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control released a study indicating that 91% of Americans over 20 years old have had cavities.
The high prevalence of this entirely preventable disease is partly due to decreased engagement in dental care, according to the American Dental Association. In addition to regular dental visits to our Charlotte dentist office, there are a number of behaviors to avoid that will help prevent the onset of cavities.
Chief cause, poor oral health care. Bacteria that live in our mouths feed on the sugars and starches left behind after eating. If not cleaned soon enough, the bacteria will then consume the leftovers resulting in acid production. Combined with the minerals in your saliva, the bacteria and acid form plaque.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to plaque causes the tooth enamel to deteriorate and lose minerals. After time, a white spot may appear on the surface of the tooth, indicating the beginning of tooth decay. At this point, the decay can be stopped or reversed with proper dental care.
If left untreated, however, a cavity will form. As the plaque eats away at more minerals, a small hole will eventually penetrate through the tooth requiring a filling. If a cavity goes ignored, it can lead to further dental problems down the line, including gum disease and root canals.
Healthy Oral Habits to Prevent Tooth Decay
Limit Sugary and Starchy Foods and Drinks
Foods high in sugars and starches tend to stick to the teeth for longer periods of time. If not cleaned right away, then the bacteria begins to feast on the remaining sugars, as explained above. A few foods to watch for include: cookies, cakes, candy, dried fruit, milk, ice cream, chips, and breakfast cereals.
Brush and Floss Correctly
You may be surprised to learn that most patients do not brush and floss their teeth correctly. The following tips will help ensure that you do so in a manner that will keep your teeth healthy.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Brush your teeth gently, holding it at a 45-degree angle as you guide it along your teeth and gums in a circular motion
- Make sure to hit all of the chewing surfaces: back, front, and top of each tooth. Make sure you reach the molars, as they are especially prone to cavities, given their jagged shape.
- Set the timer on your phone to two minutes, the ideal amount of time to brush your teeth
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove additional bacteria freshen breath
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
- Clean between your teeth by flossing once-daily using thread oran interdental cleaner, guiding the floss around each side of the tooth in a c-shape
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water throughout the day cleans away leftover food particles that can cause cavities. Taking a few sips after eating, particularly sugary and starchy foods, to reduce the risk of future cavities.
Visit Your Dentist Twice Annually
Children and older adults are especially prone to cavities. Older teeth wear down and become more vulnerable to tooth decay. Further medications taken by older adults may cause dry mouth and thus limit the flow of saliva in the mouth.
Most cavities are detected in the dental office by your dentist or x-ray. Skipping your visits puts you at a higher risk of increased cavities.
Fluoride is a mineral naturally found in soil, water, and some foods. Many municipal water supplies, including here in Charlotte, add fluoride to the water to help prevent tooth decay in the local population.
Those who drink tap water and live in a fluoridated region are likely consuming appropriate levels, making them less susceptible to cavities. However, those who prefer bottled water should be more aware of their fluoride intake.
Patients prone to cavities or who do not ingest fluoride in their drinking water may receive treatments during their dental visit.
Another easy way to increase fluoride intake is by using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Don’t rinse your mouth out with water after brushing, because it will wash away the fluoride and therefore minimize its effect.
Avoid Frequent Snacking and Drinking
Constant eating or drinking of foods or beverages causes the bacteria to wake up and start the acid production. The constant presence of acid in the mouth causes tooth decay. Similarly, frequent sipping on juices, sodas, or other acidic drinks is like continually bathing your teeth in acid all day long.
Ask about Dental Sealants
Sealants are thin protective plastic coatings painted onto the chewing surfaces of the molars. Because of their pitted and grooved shape, food and bacteria become easily stuck, making them prone to cavities.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
When you can’t brush your teeth in between meals, chewing on a piece of sugar-free gum is an ideal way to stimulate saliva production. Increased saliva helps wash away leftover food particles that would otherwise stick around, posing a risk for cavities.
Don’t Feed Your Infant before Bedtime
Yes, even babies are at risk for tooth decay. Infants who consume formula, milk, juice or other sweetened beverages before bedtime are more likely to see oral damage by what is known as baby bottle tooth decay. When these beverages are the last thing they consume prior to sleep, the residual sugars cling to their teeth, while the bacteria feeds away.
General & Pediatric Dentistry in Charlotte NC
If you have questions about cavity prevention or cavity treatment with composite fillings, call our friendly team at Stout Dentistry to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stout to discuss what could be going on. You can reach us at 704.332.7737.