What exactly is a cavity? It’s a hole in your tooth created by bacteria in your mouth. Whenever you eat, bacteria break down the food left on your teeth into an acid that erodes you enamel, or the outer shell of your teeth. Untreated cavities can lead to serious infection, so you want to get them taken care of as soon as possible, or better yet, keep them from forming in the first place. Follow these 4 steps for cavity prevention.
1. Brush at Least Twice a Day
In a perfect world, we would all be able to brush after every meal and snack, but that’s just not possible for most of us. If you can’t brush after eating, at least swish some water around in your mouth to help remove food particles from your teeth that attract bacteria in plaque. Chewing sugar-free gum may also help to clean your teeth by stimulating saliva, which washes away bits of food.
When you do brush your teeth, spend two to three minutes on it. It takes at least that amount of time to get rid of the harmful bacteria on your teeth. Don’t brush too vigorously. That can wear down your enamel and leave you more susceptible to decay. Apply only the gentlest pressure when brushing.
2. Floss Daily
Flossing is the only way to remove bacteria from between your teeth. They love to accumulate in the space where your teeth meet your gums. When plaque builds up here, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which causes bad breath, gum disease, and decay. Be sure to floss at least once daily to keep these conditions at bay.
3. Avoid Sugary Snacks
Bacteria love sugary and starchy foods more than anything. As a result, they break down these foods and produce acids that eat away at your enamel. Limit the number of times a day you eat foods high in sugar. If you can, brush your teeth or rinse with water after consuming these foods.
4. Visit Your Dentist
Your dentist can detect the signs of a cavity much earlier than you can. Usually by the time you notice that you have a cavity, you’re going to need extensive and costly treatment, like a large filling or even a root canal. By seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup, you can keep cavities from growing and needing more expensive courses of action.
As you can see, it isn’t hard to keep cavities at bay. Just follow the steps listed above and you should be good to go!
About the Author
Dr. James Geer opened the doors of his private practice in Tomball, TX in 1977, after earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Texas at Houston. His professional affiliations include the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. For more tips on cavity prevention, contact Dr. Geer on his website or by phone at (281) 357-4337.