Most of my patients ask me about the best ways to prevent tooth decay. While we all know we’re supposed to brush and floss to keep our teeth healthy, cavities remain a common problem that we all have to contend with at one point or another. Tooth decay, an infectious disease is the second most common disease, after the common cold.
While brushing and flossing are two of the most important daily habits for maintaining healthy teeth and gums — there are several other simple things you can do to avoid toothaches or worse, tooth loss.
Here are 5 simple ways to prevent tooth decay
1. Know your cavity risk level.
The first step in taking control of your oral health is knowing what your cavity risk level is. The best way to know this is through a comprehensive dental exam. With regular examinations, and discussion with your dentist, you will know where you stand, which treatments may be needed, as well as which changes in oral hygiene and diet may help.
Another advantage of knowing your cavity risk level is that it will also determine how often dental visits are needed. Once you know your risk level, then you take a more specific, effective approach to improving your oral health.The lower your risk, the less often you will need dental visits.
2. Brush your teeth regularly, properly and with the right brush
Brushing your teeth is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to prevent cavities. Be sure to brush after meals and before bed. Brushing before bed (after your late night snack) is particularly important because letting those bacteria linger on your teeth overnight can allow enamel damaging acid to form (ultimately leading to cavities). Talk to your dentist and learn the correct brushing methods. Tooth cavities can cause tooth pain.
Also, using an antimicrobial mouthwash helps to clean away the bacteria while freshening breath.
3. Cut back on sugary and acidic drinks and drink more water.
Prolonged exposure to teeth to acidic foods, coffee or tea, compounded by added sugar or even just added milk can increase your risk for new cavities.
The problem with sipping coffee with cavity causing additives such as sugar, syrups and cream is that the harmful sugars stay in your saliva over a long period of time. To counter this, drink some water along with other drinks to rinse your mouth and keep saliva from becoming too sugary and eating away at your teeth.
4. Get into the habit of flossing .
No one likes to floss. However, without flossing, you’re only cleaning only about half of your teeth surface with brushing alone.
Ideally, you should floss soon after a meal, or before bedtime, as with brushing your tooth. However, flossing is actually easier and more convenient because you can do it on the go. It’s really just like any other healthy habit. The key is starting small, and developing a routine that lasts. Flossing prevents plaque build up and cavities.
5. Quit smoking.
It is well known that smoking and tobacco use can cause many different medical problems.
However, most people don’t realize the harm that smoking and oral tobacco use pose to the mouth, gums and teeth. Smoking can do a lot more than just stain your teeth – this unhealthy habit can also lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and even oral cancer.
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