The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 16.9 percent of children and 31.6 percent of adults have untreated cavities from tooth decay. There are things you can do to help prevent decay so that when you get your teeth cleaned there are no cavities to fill.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is the breaking down of a tooth by bacteria that live in the mouth. It’s something your dentist will look for each time you go for a check-up.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
The key to tooth decay prevention is taking extra steps to ensure your mouth is clean. Food, especially the starchy and sugary kinds, that sits in the mouth feed bacteria. As they digest the food particles, they release an acid that is capable of breaking down enamel and, eventually, the interior of the tooth called dentin.
Plaque forms on teeth and combines with new food particles, acid, and salvia to dissolve the surface of the tooth. Once that protective layer is gone, the acid begins on the inside pulp. Dental sealants help prevent tooth decay from everyday buildup.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay: Oral Hygiene Tips
One of the first lessons you learn at the dentist is how to prevent tooth decay naturally. It starts with good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing. Ideally, you will clean your teeth 30 minutes after you eat. Most people brush twice a day, though, and that’s okay, too.
As part of a tooth decay prevention program, the dental hygienist can show you the right and wrong way to brush, as well. The American Dental Association recommends that you use a soft-bristled brush and replace it every couple of months.
The technique for brushing includes:
- Put fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently using short strokes that cover each tooth.
- Cover the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth with the brush.
- When brushing the inner surfaces, turn the brush, so you are moving it up and down instead of back and forth.
Flossing is an integral part of good oral hygiene and tooth decay prevention, too. To floss correctly, use around 18 inches of floss. Hold the floss between your thumb and forefinger and then slide it between your teeth gently. You should floss once a day.
Afterward, rinse your mouth out with an ADA-approved mouthwash that contains fluoride. Mouthwash has an antiseptic property that helps to eliminate any bacteria left in the mouth.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay Naturally
When you ask about ways to prevent tooth decay naturally, the answer will be diet. The foods you eat have an impact on your oral health. Stay away from sugary sweets and limit snacks like chips and pretzels. These food contain sugars that stay on teeth and feed bacteria.
If you do eat candy or a starchy snack, brush your teeth afterward. Brushing will remove the sugars and reduce your risk.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
Regular check-ups, about every six months, give your dentist a way to see if the things you are doing at home are working. It also means you can add dental treatments to your tooth decay prevention strategy. For example, Lovett Dental Heights offers fluoride treatments and sealants that help protect your teeth from decay. Professional teeth cleanings remove tarter that increases your risks of cavities, too.
The staff at Lovett Dental Heights can do X-rays that allow them to identify decay early. They can pinpoint problem areas and fill cavities, so decay doesn’t get too deep.
Other services offered at Lovett Dental Heights include:
- Pediatric dentistry
- An orthodontist
- A periodontist
- A maxillofacial surgeon
- An endodontist