Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 17-01-2020
Cavities are certainly no picnic and can be a painful experience for those who fall victim to them. Cavities and tooth decay are among the most common health problems in the world, and especially common in children and teenagers who often take their oral health for granted.
Cavity prevention should be taught and practised at all ages. We’re all familiar with the usual advice to brush and floss your teeth every day to keep the cavities away, however, cavity prevention can be a difficult task, especially for young children who have quite the sweet tooth.
Cavities are caused when your tooth begins to decay. If you fail to maintain good oral hygiene, or frequently snack or sip on sugary drinks or foods, your mouth will become host to a number of harmful bacteria.
These bacteria begin to cause the build-up of plaque and cause the tooth to decay over time. Cavities are areas on the hard surface of your teeth that have been permanently damaged and begin to form holes or openings.
If cavities are left untreated they can worsen, and the holes in your teeth slowly become larger and the deeper layers of your teeth become affected over time. The decay and damage caused by cavities can only worsen over time leading to severe toothache, infection, and eventual tooth loss.
There is no denying that regular dental check-ups can help detect cavities before they develop or in its early stages, and the appropriate treatment can be applied. But what if you could avoid the damage and pain caused by cavities all-together?
Here are some simple tips to help protect yourself from cavities and other oral health problems which can help you preserve your teeth and smile for life.
Clean your teeth the right way
Your mouth plays host to billions of microorganisms that consume the sugars from our food and drinks and continue to grow. The byproduct of this consumption is waste generated by these microbes in the form of a biofilm, also known as dental plaque.
Once plaque begins to form, the microorganisms can stick onto your teeth for longer periods of time, forming acids and wearing down your teeth, causing cavities to form. These bacteria in your mouth don’t always stay in your mouth and can easily travel to and infect other parts of your body.
The best way to fight off any harmful bacteria in your mouth and not give them a chance to set up camp, is to brush regularly, especially after meals and before bed when food particles can be left inside of your mouth.
Using an anti-bacterial mouthwash can also be helpful to clear any bacteria in your mouth. Not only do you clean your mouth by using a mouthwash, but you can leave your mouth smelling fresh.
The American Dental Association provides some recommendations to help improve the effectiveness of your brushing. A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used and gentle pressure should be applied to avoid injuring the gums.
Make sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth by placing the brush at a 45-degree angle and moving it in a gentle back and forth motion. The tip of the toothbrush can be used to clean the inside surfaces of the teeth in an up-and-down motion.
Your tongue can also harbour bacteria and should be brushed to keep clean as well as to freshen your breath. Lastly, it’s important to ensure that the tool you are using to brush is also clean, so replace your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months.
Know your cavity risk level
Some individuals — depending on their diet, genetics, and lifestyle — may have a greater risk for developing cavities. In order to determine your risk level, a dental professional will need to complete a comprehensive exam of your teeth and gums.
It’s important to schedule at least one dental check-up every 6 months so that a dental professional can provide a deep cleaning of your teeth as well as an examination of your mouth to make sure everything is looking good.
If you are at a higher risk of getting a cavity, then you may be required to visit the dentist more often compared to those at a lower risk of developing a cavity. You will be able to discuss your cavity risk level with a dental professional to know where you stand and which changes in your lifestyle or diet are required to help improve your oral hygiene.
Decrease your sugar intake
A warm coffee or tea is exactly what we need sometimes to get our day started, but most of the time, the beverages and foods we enjoy contain a lot of sugar. Sugary drinks such as juices or acidic drinks such as coffee and tea with added milk and sugar can be harmful to your teeth if they exposed to these drinks for long periods of time.
Bacteria in our mouths require sugars to grow and thrive, and we help speed this process along by making sugars very accessible to these oral bacteria. If you do require at least one caffeinated drink in the morning, try to consume it under 20 minutes and avoid adding extra cream or sugar, and give your mouth a quick rinse after finishing off your drink.
Alternatively, you can sip your drinks through a straw to decrease the contact it makes with your teeth. Not only is sugar and other caffeinated drinks bad for your health but they can also be damaging to your teeth.
If you want a healthy alternative to any beverage, it’s as easy as turning on your tap. Drinking water with added fluoride is an excellent way to help protect your teeth from cavities.
Water is one of the healthiest options and required for our survival. Water allows nutrients to be distributed in our body, removes waste, and gives our skin that natural glow.
Drinking water helps rinse and remove any food particles after meals and drinking fluoridated water can help keep your teeth healthy and strong and prevent cavity formation.
Don’t forget to floss
No matter how good our brushing technique may be, we are just unable to reach the spaces between our teeth, and it’s precisely these tight spaces in which food particles may be lodged.
Flossing is one of the simplest and quickest ways to remove anything that could be stuck between your teeth and clean up the two sides of your teeth that the brush simply cannot reach.
Flossing can be easy and completed even while you’re busy with another task. Try to squeeze in a quick session of flossing post meals and before bedtime and try to synchronize flossing with your brushing sessions so you won’t miss either.
Put out that cigarette
Smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and a whole array of medical conditions harming almost every organ of the body. It is no surprise that smoking is horrible for your overall health.
Smoking and oral tobacco are also one of your mouth’s worst enemies. Smoking can lead to gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer, not to mention its ability to stain your teeth. If you are a smoker, do your body the biggest favour and try to use any means possible to quit this horrible habit.
Tooth decay, cavities, pain, and infection are all things we hope to never experience. In order to really protect your teeth and gums from decay and damage, your oral health should always be prioritized.
Regular dental check-ups, daily brushing and flossing, and minimizing your sugar intake can help maintain your beautiful smile. Prevent cavity formation before it becomes a problem that requires treatment.
Here at Milltown Dental, our team of professionals know the importance of your oral health and want to help you maintain that healthy and happy smile for life.
To learn more about how to protect your teeth from cavities, call Milltown Dental at (905) 878-8528 or contact us here.