Although cavities are an unfortunately common problem around the world, the good news is there are numerous things you can do to help minimize your risk of getting a cavity. Following these tips to help avoid cavities can also provide you with a quick and easy guide to better oral health.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are areas of damage on the surface of teeth and develop into small openings or holes and can be caused by multiple factors as a result of tooth decay that happens over time. Oftentimes, cavities can get started when sugar does not get removed from the teeth and forms a plaque. If the plaque also goes untreated, it begins to harden and becomes more difficult to remove. When hardened, it also adds a layer of protection for bacteria which can weaken the enamel and move towards the inner tooth and is when pain and sensitivity typically occur.
How to prevent cavities
There are a variety of simple things that you can do to help combat the risk of cavities. Although cavities can be treated quite easily when caught, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene to minimize the risk of tooth decay.
1. Brush and floss often
Brush your teeth twice a day, or preferably after each time you eat, with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. When brushing your teeth, take the time to clean each side of your teeth by brushing the top, back and sides. You should also floss once a day to remove pieces of food that get stuck between your teeth throughout the day. If flossing isn’t your favorite part of the day, try using an interdental cleaner to change up your routine. Brushing and flossing are some of the most effective ways to prevent cavities at home on a daily basis.
2. Drink tap water
Tap water contains a small amount of fluoride which helps to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities and tooth decay. Simply drinking tap instead of bottled water gives your teeth a regular boost of protection against cavities.
3. Regular visits to your dentist
Visiting your dentist or dental hygienist is the only way to ensure your teeth are cavity-free. Regular cleanings and appointments with your family dentist can help remove plaque from your teeth and stop cavities before they start to form. Your family dentist will be able to spot cavities early in order to help keep your mouth pain-free. In order to help prevent cavities, your family dentist may recommend two common types of treatments: fluoride treatments and sealants.
Depending on your family dentist’s recommendations, a fluoride treatment may be beneficial for your teeth. For more information on the specific ways a fluoride treatment can help the overall health of your teeth, read one of our other blog posts here.
Another excellent way to prevent cavities is by asking your family dentist about sealants. Dental sealants are essentially a barrier of protection that’s applied to the chewing surface of the back teeth to seal off groves that tend to collect food particles. Sealants can provide such great protection that the CDC actually recommends them for all school-aged children. They may last for years but still require regular checks with your family dentist. Although sealants are more common in children, they can also provide benefits for adults as well.
4. Limit candy and sugary drinks
Maintaining a healthy diet is another way to prevent cavities at home. Eating fruits and vegetables are not only better for your teeth but can help increase saliva flow which may help wash away some particles that get stuck in your teeth. Frequent sugary snacks and drinks such as candy or soda are among the worst foods for your teeth. Simply not making a habit out of having a sweet treat can help your teeth stay cavity-free.
5. Avoid snacking and sipping all-day
When you do enjoy a snack or a sip of a sugary beverage, try to not do so every day, but definitely not all day. Constant snacking or sipping sugary drinks provides the bacteria in your mouth power to make more acid which harms your teeth, making it hard for them to stay strong against cavities. Limit your time spent with sugary snacks and you’re on your way to limiting cavities!
When to visit your Olathe family dentist
You should visit your dentist regularly, but especially if you feel you may have a cavity starting. Symptoms of cavities vary and can depend on when the cavity started and where it’s located in the mouth. In the beginning stages, patients may not feel anything at all. But, as the cavity gets larger and deeper into the tooth they may begin to feel symptoms such as toothache, spontaneous pain or pain with sweet food and drinks, pain with hot or cold food and drinks or even staining on the surface of the tooth. However, these symptoms don’t always mean you have a cavity. The best way to be sure your teeth are in great health is by regularly visiting your dentist.
If you’d like to learn more about preventing cavities in your teeth or your child’s teeth, visit your local Olathe dentist. We love getting to know families from around the Kansas City area and take pride in being a great dentist for kids. Call us at 912-782-8900 if you’d like to schedule an appointment at your Olathe family dentist.