Cavities are an unfortunately common dental problem, affecting both children and adults of all ages. Untreated cavities can lead to further tooth decay, abscesses, gum disease, and, eventually, even tooth loss. Some people are simply more prone to cavities than others, but everyone is at risk. Following these 7 tips can help minimize the chances of developing cavities.
- • 1. See the Dentist
Professional cleaning removes plaque and tartar that home treatment misses. In addition, regular dental appointments allow your dentist to check for signs of emerging problems and treat them before they become severe. Plan to visit every 6 months or as directed by your dentist.
• 2. Ask About Fluoride Treatments
Most people get enough fluoride from tap water and fluoridated toothpaste, but some need a little extra help. If you are committed to bottled water, use a well, or live in an area with unacceptable tap water, you might benefit from fluoride treatments. Your dentist will advise you as to what kind of treatment you need and on what schedule.
• 3. Brush Regularly
Food particles and bacteria collect on teeth after every meal or snack, and the longer you leave them there, the harder they are to remove. If possible, brush your teeth after every meal. If you can’t, then brush them at least twice per day. Floss at least once every day to remove particles and debris from between your teeth and along your gum line.
- • 4. Rinse Your Mouth
If you don’t have the opportunity to brush after eating, rinse your mouth with clear, fresh water to remove food debris. Be especially scrupulous about rinsing after consuming sugary or sticky foods or drinks, which make it easier for bacteria to grow. In addition, consider using a medicated mouthwash once or twice a day, rather than one that merely freshens your breath. Over the counter formulations are available, but be sure to read the label to ensure that your mouthwash of choice contains a cavity-fighting active ingredient.
- • 5. Watch Your Diet
Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as unsweetened gum and hard candy, can actually help flush your mouth by stimulating saliva production. Unsweetened coffee and tea also do a decent job of rinsing away food debris. Limit foods that stick to or between the teeth, such as chips and cookies. When you do eat them, brush your teeth as soon as possible.
Many people have made the switch to bottled water, but it lacks the fluoride of tap water. Switch back if possible to get the full benefits of fluoridated city water. If your water is safe, but you don’t like the taste, use a home water filter or add a packet of unsweetened flavoring to each glass of water.
- • 6. Try a Dental Sealant
If your teeth are prone to cavities, ask your dentist if a dental sealant is right for you. This is a protective plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealing off the grooves where bacteria and food particles can hide. Dental sealants are recommended for all young children, but can also be of benefit to teens and adults. A dental sealant normally lasts for about 10 years, but it should be checked periodically for signs of cracking and replaced if needed.
- • 7. Use Antibacterial Protection
If you are at particular risk for cavities and tooth decay, your dentist might recommend an antibacterial treatment such as a prescription mouth rinse. These treatments are not right for everyone, but can help to protect teeth that are unusually cavity-prone.
Cavities are the first step in tooth decay. Untreated, they can lead to further decay, infection, painful abscesses, gum disease, and even tooth loss. With early detection and proper treatment, they can be halted, but not reversed. The best solution is to prevent cavities from developing in the first place. Following the 7 tips above will not necessarily prevent all cavities, but will go a long way towards keeping your mouth cavity-free.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.