How can you prevent tooth decay?
A lack of proper oral hygiene does not only cause an unappealing smile, but it can also affect your oral and dental health as well. Tooth decay occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the tooth and gum line and the bacteria slowly work their way inside the tooth (from the enamel to the dentin). The hole(s) caused by the bacteria are known as cavities and can become extremely painful if not treated early.
Plaque and tartar grow faster in the presence of foods rich in starch and carbohydrates and even smoking. If not cleaned properly, plaque and tartar can lead to disease and infection which is also known as tooth decay.
As worrisome as this sounds, the great news is that tooth decay can be reversed (if it isn’t too severe) and prevented altogether. Maintain good oral hygiene by following our top tips and you can save your teeth and ultimately your smile.
Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay
- Brush, brush, brush: Tooth decay begins when plaque forms and hardens on your teeth. The only way to get rid of it is to practice excellent oral hygiene and that begins with brushing. You should be brushing your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice a day – once in the morning and again, right before bed at night. Make gentle circular motions using a soft bristled toothbrush and make sure you brush all exposed surfaces – the front, back, and on top of the teeth to remove any plaque and tartar. You should gently brush along your gum line to remove bacteria which could cause gum disease.
- Floss like you mean it: Flossing is a great way to reach all those spaces between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t get to. Make sure you floss at least once a day, preferably before bed. Dental floss cleans between your teeth to remove any food particles, plaque, and other dirt that your toothbrush may have missed. You can also opt for interdental cleaners or water flossers to really get into those small spaces where plaque and tartar can hide from your brush.
- Rinse with mouthwash: A good fluoride mouthwash will help remove any loosened plaque and tartar and kill bacteria, which can cause cavities and tooth decay. The fluoride in the mouthwash will also help strengthen the enamel in your teeth. Talk to your dentist about whether mouthwash is right for you.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Cleaning your teeth at home will definitely play a big role in maintaining your oral health and reducing your risk for dental problems, however, visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleaning is just as important. Using special cleaning tools, your dentist will perform a thorough cleaning of your teeth and scrape away built-up tartar which cannot be removed through home cleanings.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods: Foods and drinks high in sugar and acid increase your risk for tooth decay. The sugar and acid from these foods will erode the enamel on your teeth leaving it more susceptible to bacteria, damage, and tooth decay.
- Include these foods in your diet: Foods high in vitamins are great for your teeth. Calcium-rich foods and drinks such as dairy products (cheese, unsweetened milk, etc.), almonds, leafy green vegetables, etc. and phosphorous-rich foods such as eggs, meat, and fish can all help strengthen your teeth’s natural enamel offering extra protection against tooth decay.
- Dental sealants: Your dentist can apply a dental sealant to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. These protective coatings are used to protect the natural grooves in your teeth from plaque and tartar build-up and tooth decay.
- Fluoride treatments: If your teeth aren’t receiving enough fluoride (which helps strengthen your natural enamel), you can speak to your dentist about getting fluoride treatments such as using custom-made trays placed over your teeth to apply the fluoride, especially if you are at high risk for tooth decay.
Take Care of Your Teeth
Preventing tooth decay can help you avoid a number of dental, oral, and overall health issues. Tooth decay can ultimately cause the loss of teeth and cause problems with biting, chewing, and even speaking. Follow our top tips to help avoid tooth decay and preserve your beautiful smile!