Cavities are incredibly common. The vast majority of Americans have had at least one cavity at some point. They are a result of tooth decay that leads to a small hole in the tooth. Left untreated, cavities may lead to structural problems in the tooth and possible infections. Root canals or even extractions might be needed for cavities that have not been addressed. The good thing is, there are a few easy things you can do to protect your teeth from cavities.
1. Brush Your Teeth
Good oral hygiene habits are one of the best things you can do to protect your teeth. Brushing at least twice a day can remove food particles and harmful bacteria from your teeth. When you brush, consider the following:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush – Harder bristles can irritate your gums
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride – Fluoride can strengthen your teeth and prevent cavities
- Replace your toothbrush regularly – Swap out your toothbrush every three months
- Brush every corner of your mouth – Don’t neglect the backs of your molars or bottom teeth
2. Floss Daily
Brushing alone might not remove food particles and plaque from hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Floss at least once a day to clean in between your teeth. You can use waxed floss, unwaxed floss, or even floss that is flavored. If you have crowns, veneers, or gum disease, your dentist might recommend a different form of floss as well.
3. Eliminate Sugary Drinks
Soda, sweet tea, fruit juice, and other sugary drinks can leave a coating of sugar on the teeth. Bacteria in your mouth reacts with the sugar and forms plaque. The plaque then creates an acidic environment leading to possible tooth decay.
Instead, drink water whenever possible. Water can dilute the sugar in your mouth and may assist in rinsing away some of the harmful bacteria. If you do drink sugary beverages, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Enjoy your favorite beverages in moderation and make them into a treat rather than an everyday indulgence.
4. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it can also contribute to tooth decay? Smoking can lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar. Additionally, it can contribute to gum disease. If you’re currently a smoker, find a support system that will encourage you as you quit. Certain medications can also help you quit, so talk to your doctor about your plans.
5. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Especially if you’re prone to cavities or have gum disease, it’s important to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and exams. Even if you don’t experience any of the obvious signs of cavities, like discoloration, bad breath, or sensitivity, it’s possible to have early stages of tooth decay. Your dentist can check for early warning signs. If they find a cavity, they can treat it before it requires a larger filling or a more complicated procedure like a root canal.
During a cleaning, your hygienist will remove any tartar or plaque from your teeth. They’ll also clean your teeth using a special gritty toothpaste and then apply a fluoride treatment before finishing.
Contact Columbia Smiles Today
Don’t put off your next cleaning. Reach out to Columbia Smiles and find out why Howard County residents have trusted our dental practice for decades. We offer a wide array of dental services to keep your teeth and gums healthy. From cleanings and exams to specialty dentistry services and cosmetic dentistry, we can make you feel confident about your smile. We offer services for the whole family as well!