Every person has dealt with cavities at some point in their life. Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to avoid cavities and prevent further tooth decay. Our Reno Dental Associates dentists have made a list of how to prevent cavities.
To prevent cavities, you should:
- Brush your teeth frequently
- Floss daily
- Eat less sugary and starch-rich foods
- Frequently visit your local dentist for check-ups and teeth cleanings
- Drink more fluoridated water
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash
- Avoid eating sugary foods right before going to bed
- Monitor for any teeth degrading habits, such as grinding
- Ask your dentist whenever you feel pain in the mouth
- Clean your tongue
What is a cavity?
A tooth cavity is a result of tooth damage from bacteria. You have hundreds of different types of bacteria living in your mouth. Fortunately, many bacteria in your mouth are helpful. Unfortunately, there are a few bacteria that play a direct role in causing tooth decay.
How do cavities occur?
The cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth use sugar to create acid. Over time the acid builds-up inside your mouth. If preventative measures aren’t taken, the acid will cause tooth decay, and even worse, cavities.
Every day in our mouth two sides wage war against each other. On the plaque side, colorless bacteria along with sugar and starch foods (such as cookies, milk, juice, and soda).
The bacteria use the sugar and starch gained from these foods to create acids that rot away the protective surface of our teeth, the enamel.
On the good side of the fight are all the minerals in our mouth. Inside our mouths are minerals such as calcium and phosphate working hard to protect our teeth. Along with these minerals is fluoride. Unfortunately fluoride does not occur in our mouth. Fluoride comes from toothpaste, water, and other sources.
This team (comprised of calcium, phosphate, fluoride, and you) works to fight back the build-up of acid. This team helps repair enamel by replacing lost minerals dissolved by acid.
If your tooth is exposed to acid frequently, you may notice a white spot appear on your tooth. This white spot is an indicator of weakening enamel and a loss of minerals. A white spot is an early sign of tooth decay.
At this stage, it is still possible to stop and reverse the damage. Enamel will repair itself with minerals, so long as you don’t create more acid from sugary foods. More damage to the tooth will result in permanent damage, a cavity.
How to prevent cavities and keep them away
It’s easy to ask how to prevent cavities, but how do we keep cavities away? Luckily, there are many ways we can lend a hand in the battle against cavities and the acids that cause them.
Use Fluoride to reinforce your defenses
Fluoride is the best way to add more minerals to strengthen your mouth. With fluoride, you can stop and reverse early tooth decay. Fluoride:
- Prevents mineral loss
- Replaces lost minerals
- Slows bacteria from making acid
You get fluoride by:
- Drinking fluoridated water
- Brushing with toothpaste that has fluoride
In some cases, your dentist may recommend some additional ways to get fluoride:
- Using fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth
- Fluoride tablets
- Using a fluoride mouthwash
*While it is great to drink bottled water, most brands do not contain the fluoride necessary to prevent tooth decay. Talk with your dentist about whether you need additional fluoride.
Limit your consumption of sugary drinks
This includes fruit juices. While the idea of fruit in juice form may seem tempting and perfectly healthy, most fruit juices have additional added sugar. Sometimes, this may be more than soda!
Try to avoid drinking or eating sugary foods before bed
Our saliva is at its weakest when we are asleep, leaving us vulnerable to acid attacks.
Visit a dentist regularly
Dentists have the tools and experience to clean your teeth better than you. A Reno Dental Association dentist will:
- Look for signs of tooth decay
- Remove missed plaque build-up
- Apply either a fluoride gel or varnish
With this list, you no longer need to ask “how to prevent cavities.”
The dentists of Reno Dental Associates are ready to give you the smile you deserve. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.