No one wants to hear the words, “cavities” or “tooth decay” in the dentist office, though it is a common occurrence. The CDC estimates that 91 percent of all adults (age 20-64) have dental caries, the scientific term for cavities. Cavities may be bad news, but the good news is that your tooth decay can be treated and, in some cases, tooth decay can be reversed.
How cavities are formed
Cavities are formed through a perfect storm. When bacteria in your mouth combine with the food that sits on your teeth, the combination creates plaque which includes acid. Certain types of food are more likely to produce this acid, which can eat holes in your teeth.
How to prevent cavities
The best news about tooth decay is that cavities can be prevented—and many of those ways are fairly simple. Many of the tips for preventing cavities focus on daily activities that play a big role in keeping tooth decay away. If the tooth decay is very minor, many of these ways can also reverse cavities and keep your teeth healthy.
Be careful about using remedies found on the web to reverse tooth decay; many of these online remedies can actually damage the teeth. Always contact your dentist if you are concerned about reversing tooth decay and preventing cavities. Your dentist may suggest products and home treatments that can keep your smile healthy.
Brush your teeth.
It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before bed. Food particles left in the mouth can trigger the storm that causes tooth decay. Brushing too hard can wear down tooth enamel, which is a natural protector of the tooth. Instead, make gentle circular brush strokes with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes to keep teeth clean.
Floss, floss, floss.
Flossing your teeth is an important part of removing hard-to-reach food particles that can combine with bacteria and cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, it is not a common practice. According to a national flossing study, almost a third of Americans admit they never floss. It is always ok to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for tips or instructions on how to floss.
Invest in sealants.
Dental sealants are painted on your teeth by a dentist, forming a barricade against unwanted invaders, such as plaque and food. Sealants are especially effective on teeth with deep grooves and pits that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. In addition to being effective, dental sealants are an easy (and painless) dental treatment. Many insurance companies also cover dental sealants, which can last for many years. Schedule a dental appointment to get sealants that prevent tooth decay.
Fluoridated toothpaste, water, mouthwashes, and other products can strengthen enamel and lessen the effects of acid in your mouth. Put simply, fluoridated mouthwash can make teeth so the acid is less likely to eat away the tooth.
When you can’t brush, drinking water can be an easy way to prevent cavities. In addition to keeping you healthy, water can wash away food particle and harmful bacteria that causes cavities. For a better option, choose tap water that contains fluoride or a bottled water that contains fluoride.
Schedule regular dental cleanings.
Preventative dental cleanings can remove food particles and plaque in hard-to-reach places, such as near the gum line or between teeth. Think of tooth brushing and flossing as the first line of defense. A preventative dental cleaning is a deep cleaning that can keep teeth clean and prevent cavities. For those with more serious dental issues, root planning and scaling or periodontal maintenance can stem the progression of gum disease (read here about types of dental cleanings and what issues they treat).
Stay away from sugary drinks.
Sweetened drinks, even diet drinks, flow over the teeth and mingle with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. The acid from this reaction attacks your teeth and can decay tooth enamel. Scientific studies have shown a strong connection between soda consumption and tooth decay. Drinking many sugary drinks, such as soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices, can play a part in tooth decay. If you do decide to indulge in a sweetened drink, and brushing is not possible, the next best protector of your teeth is water. Drink or swish and spit water immediately after afterwards, in attempt to wash the sugar off your teeth.