Cavities are probably the most well-known threat to the health of our teeth. From a young age, we’re told to brush our teeth and avoid too many sweets, or the dentist might discover a cavity at our next visit.
Cavities do pose a serious concern for our teeth, but there are several steps we can take to prevent them from forming. Being well-armed with knowledge about how to prevent them is the first step toward effective dental care.
What are Cavities?
When bacteria builds up on our teeth, it forms into a tacky film called plaque. Over time, this bacteria breaks down sugars and carbohydrates from the food we eat, creating acid in the process. This acid eats away at our teeth, eroding the enamel and creating pits and decay on the tooth’s surface, and, if left untreated, deeper into the tooth.
Start With Good Oral Hygiene
As most of us know, sticking to a regular and effective dental hygiene regimen is the best way to prevent cavities before they have a chance to form. You should brush at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride; brushing after each meal is recommended if possible, and particularly before going to bed each night.
Flossing daily is also an essential part of good dental hygiene. Since it takes about 24 hours for plaque to form, flossing once a day should help most people keep the tight places between teeth clean.
When on the go, or just to supplement your brushing and flossing routine, a daily rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash can help get rid of plaque-causing bacteria. Chewing sugarless gum that contains xylitol, can also help slow down bacterial growth.
Check Your Diet
One of the best ways to reduce your chances of getting cavities is to limit the amount of acid in your mouth. And since the bacteria that forms acids likes to feed on sugary and high-starch foods, examine your diet for areas to cut back on these cavity-causing agents.
Sweets and sugary sodas are an obvious place to start, along with foods high in carbs like pretzels and chips, or other items that tend to stick to the surface of teeth and in between gaps.
Limiting the amount of time these foods and drinks remain in contact with your teeth is also important, so if possible, try to cut back on any between-meal snacking throughout the day. And if you’re not somewhere where brushing and flossing is convenient, follow up a meal or snack by thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water (preferably fluoridated), or chewing on sugarless gum.
Another effective way to prevent cavities is to have your dentist place sealants on your molars. Sealants are very thin covers, made from a clear composite material that provide a barrier between food particles and the grinding surfaces of your molars. Sealants are also recommended for children and young people. The placement process is very simple, and our team at Herrick Dental will be glad to walk you through the process.
How Herrick Dental Can Help
It is important to remember that for some people, cavities still appear even with regular brushing and flossing. Even with diligent at-home hygiene, there will be some areas that prove just too difficult to reach effectively. That is one reason why visiting your dentist for regular cleanings is such an important part of oral health.
At Herrick Dental, our staff will provide a thorough cleaning, along with an exam to spot any potential hazard areas before they progress. To get started, call us at 614-891-0440, or schedule your first appointment online.« Back to blog