After your adult teeth come in, that’s it. These are the teeth that you will have for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, plaque can lead to tooth decay and the formation of cavities. Nobody likes having to get a filling, and cavities in teeth can lead to eventual tooth loss. Learning how to prevent cavities can save you time, money, and frustration over the course of your lifetime.
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to protect your teeth and gums and prevent cavities. Here’s a list of 15 of them:
- Brush teeth regularly: It’s a mantra that we all hear from the time we are little: “Brush your teeth after every meal!” While it’s not always possible to brush this often, you should still brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. Your dental hygienist can assist you with learning proper brushing technique. Chewable black revealing tablets can also help you improve the thoroughness of your brushing.
If you do have the opportunity to brush her teeth more often, particularly after midday meals and snacks, do so. Many stores sell disposable mini-toothbrushes that even come “pre-pasted” so you don’t have to carry a separate tube of toothpaste with you.
- Prioritize nighttime brushing: Saliva provides natural protection against cavities, but saliva production decreases while you sleep. This leaves your teeth more vulnerable, which is why you always want to go to bed with clean teeth.
- Check your toothpaste: Check your toothpaste to make sure it contains fluoride, the one ingredient that has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay. If you aren’t sure about the brand you use, ask your dentist for a recommendation.
- Use a soft-bristled brush: When purchasing a toothbrush, or a new head for your electric toothbrush, check the label. It should specify that the brush is soft bristled, which is what most dentists recommend that you use. The soft bristles are not only more comfortable; they can more easily get between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque.
- Replace your toothbrush frequently: Most people should get a new toothbrush, or new electric toothbrush head, every three to four months. Your best guide is a visual inspection of the brush: If the bristles are no longer straight and instead curl under or flair to the sides, you need a replacement.
- Floss daily: Daily flossing is an important part of your oral health regimen. Floss at least once a day, preferably at night before you go to bed. If you find traditional dental floss difficult to use, you can buy pre-flossed picks at any drugstore. Keep some in your purse or desk for use during the day.
- Treat dry mouth: Dry mouth has many causes, including the use of medications, aging, or other medical conditions. It can also contribute to oral health issues such as bad breath, plaque formation gum disease, and cavities.
If you notice that you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist and even your doctor. Dry mouth can be a symptom of a medical condition that needs treatment. In addition, your dentist can provide you with treatment options that can help protect your teeth and gums while also making you more comfortable.
- Avoid snacking: The admonishment to not eat between meals isn’t just about restricting calories. Many people don’t have time to brush their teeth after snacking, which gives plaque an opportunity to form. If you do snack, avoid sugary foods and opt instead for fresh fruits and vegetables which can stimulate the flow of saliva.
- Stay away from sugary, sticky foods: Sugary foods are a major culprit in tooth decay as sugar is a favored “food” of the bacteria that form plaque. In addition, sticky foods, including dried fruit (such as raisins) gets stuck between teeth and can be difficult to remove. These foods, which may be high in sugar, also contribute to cavities between teeth.
- Drink unsweetened liquids: Drinking plain and flavored waters, along with unsweetened tea and coffee, can help increase saliva production and keep teeth and gums healthy.
- See your dentist regularly: It’s recommended that adults see their dentist once every 12 months for a professional cleaning and examination. Professional cleanings are essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, and only your dentist has the expertise to identify possible dental problems in their early stages.
- Drink tap water: Bottled waters may not contain fluoride, which is essential for protecting your teeth against cavities. If you don’t drink tap water because you don’t like the taste or don’t feel comfortable with your local water supply, talk to your dentist about other options.
- Get a fluoride treatment: Fluoride treatments provided by your dentist can help reduce your chance of getting cavities.
- Ask about sealants: Sealants are clear coatings applied to your teeth to protect against plaque and eventual decay. You can only get sealant treatments to your dentist, and the treatment can last for several years. If you do opt for sealant treatment, you will need to develop a consistent schedule of dental visits so that your dentist can check the integrity of the sealant and perform a touch-up if necessary.
- Use mouthwash: Many people use mouthwash to freshen breath, but mouthwashes containing fluoride can also help protect cavities. In addition, vigorously rinsing with mouthwash can also loosen food particles between teeth that can contribute to cavities and gum disease.
While this list may seem long, much of what we suggest here can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. In fact, actions needed to protect your teeth and gums shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each day.
If you need help developing an oral care regimen or are concerned about your teeth and gums, contact your local Gentle Dental office. Our professional office staff is happy to schedule an appointment for you, and weekend and evening hours are available in many of our locations. We also strive to make our services as gentle on your wallet as possible by accepting most dental insurance, major credit cards, discount plans, and offering financing options.