Every day there is an epic battle happening in your mouth — a battle against cavities.
In one corner there are bacteria and acids that form from the food we eat and the liquids we drink. In the other corner, there is natural producing saliva and fluoride. Just as the acids start to attack the enamel on your tooth, saliva and fluoride work to repair the enamel.
A cavity develops when the bacteria and acidic foods/liquids are exposed to the teeth so quickly and in such large quantities that the saliva and fluoride can’t keep up. Eventually, they lose the fight and the enamel is destroyed resulting in a permanent cavity that can only be fixed with a filling.
Depressed? Don't be! The good news is that there are many methods of prevention out there that have been well researched and documented. Find what works for you from the list below and implement them into your life to prevent the annoyance and pain of cavities and other extensive dental work.
1. Start with a Tooth-Healthy Diet
We have all heard about the harmful effects of sugary drinks and acidic foods your teeth, but thankfully there are many foods available that can boost the strength in your teeth and leave you with a healthier smile.
Foods rich with calcium and phosphorus help to naturally refuel your teeth. Great examples of calcium are milk (low-fat), cheese, and yogurt. Phosphorus lives in foods like pumpkin seeds, eggs, tofu, and broth.
Firm, crisp foods are also great for your teeth. The more you chew, the more you stimulate your mouth to produce Saliva. Saliva helps to neutralize bacteria in your mouth and reduce tooth decay.
Leafy greens provide calcium, folic acid, and minerals that aid in overall teeth health. Making sure that you have plenty of Vitamin C and D are also imperative to keep your teeth strong. Vitamin C is found in foods like fish and egg yolks while Vitamin D is found in oranges and bell peppers.
Meat is great for your teeth as well because it is rich in arginine, an amino acid that has been linked to the disruption of plaque to lessen the change of a cavity.
2. Brush At Least Twice a Day
I can hear my mother saying this to me as I write this, but It is recommended that you brush after every meal!
Twice a day is sufficient for riding your teeth of plaque and other harmful bacteria if it is impossible to brush each time you finish eating. Plaque grows in between teeth so using floss or an interdental cleaner is necessary after every meal as well.
If you cannot brush after every meal, be sure to wash your mouth out with water or mouthwash containing fluoride to rid your mouth of some of the bacteria until you are able to brush properly.
3. Visit Your Dentist Regularly for Cleanings and Oral Exams
Having a hygienist professionally clean your teeth on a regular basis and remove plaque that causes tooth decay and cavities.
The biggest prevention lies in trusting the professionals. Regular teeth cleanings and oral exams help to catch problems early and often times dentists can recommend a treatment plan that ends up being less expensive than if you wait until the problem becomes severe.
Also, there are many other diseases that correlate with problems in your mouth. Sometimes heart disease and diabetes are associated with red and inflamed gums. Getting regular cleanings and exams keep not only your teeth but your body healthy.
4. Drink More Water
5. Dental Sealants
A great source of protection for your teeth is dental sealants. Sealants are a defensive plastic coating that is placed on the chewing surface in the back of the mouth. They help protect from ridges and crevices where food can build up and cause decay. If sealants are done before the teeth have started to decay, they act as a great source for keeping the teeth clean.
Dental sealants are recommended for all school-aged children by the center of disease control, but can also be helpful for adults prone to cavities. Their studies show that school-aged children without dental sealants have almost three times the amount of cavities as those children that do.
6. Chewing gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is another great way to boost production of saliva in the mouth. The act of chewing stimulates the saliva in your mouth. Gum can also rid your teeth of food particles that may have stuck around after a meal and reduce the level of acid in your mouth.
7. Use a straw
Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and other sugary drinks are not recommended for a healthier mouth, however, studies show that if you sip them through a straw they can be less harmful.
The ADA released a study stating that drinking from a straw positioned in the back of your mouth limits the amount of contact between the sugary substance and the teeth. When you drink directly from a cup the liquid pools in the back of mouth causing a longer time period between tooth and liquid.
8. Use Toothpaste and Mouthwash with Fluoride
Fluoride is known as “nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Naturally, fluoride lives in all water sources and is a mix of different elements. When acid attacks the tooth, cavities are created. Fluoride has a remineralization process that reverses that early decay process.
The two forms of fluoride, topical and systemic, are both necessary for healthy teeth. Topical can be obtained through purchasing toothpaste that contains fluoride to brush with regularly. There are also mouthwashes that contain fluoride and special fluoride treatments that can be performed by a dental specialist.
Getting lazy and apathetic with your dental health routine can be easy. For the most part it doesn’t feel like it has a great impact on your life. Yet, dental surgeries can be some of the most painful and expensive procedures.
However, with all of these resources at your fingertips it is easy to take time to prevent harmful and painful cavities! Taking preventive measures now will save you money and time in the future. If you have any questions or need more information contact your dentist today!