Keeping Your Smile Cavity-Free
While cavities are extremely common, you don’t have to be one of the 92% of Americans aged 20 to 64 who experience cavities in their permanent teeth! Learning the best way to ward off cavities could keep you out of the dental chair for unnecessary restorative work.
Although restorative dental work such as fillings can reverse early-stage tooth decay and prevent cavities from progressing, the best-case scenario is to avoid needing dental fillings in the first place!
What Is a Cavity?
Cavities are a form of permanent tooth decay caused by bacteria in the mouth left behind by food particles that cause sticky plaque. As plaque builds up and turns into hard tartar, it holds acid against the teeth that begins to attack your tooth enamel (or the protective outer tooth layer), leading to tooth decay.
If left untreated, cavities get larger, often causing severe toothaches, leading to a tooth infection and even tooth loss.
Do I Have a Cavity?
Cavity symptoms vary depending on their size, extent, and location in the mouth. Early-stage cavities may produce no symptoms at all, which is why it’s so important to keep regular dental checkup appointments with your dentist.
As the tooth decay spreads, you may begin to notice a sharp toothache with no apparent cause, tooth sensitivity, visible holes in your teeth (cavities), and dark or white stains on the tooth surfaces.
What You Can Do to Avoid Cavities
The good news is that you can prevent cavities by practicing good oral hygiene! The following tips can help you avoid cavities:
Brush your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride: A good oral hygiene regimen must include twice-daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup from and between your teeth. Toothpaste containing the mineral fluoride is best because it protects against cavities with its antibacterial properties, “remineralizes” tooth enamel, and prevents further decay in teeth already containing cavities.
Drink plenty of water: Many public water supplies are treated with added fluoride – the same mineral added to 90% of commercial toothpaste. Frequent exposure to fluoride can prevent tooth decay. If you mainly drink bottled water, consider switching to filtered tap water instead because most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride.
Eat a healthy diet: Certain foods are better than others when it comes to the health of your teeth. Your diet should have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and other healthy foods that won’t get stuck in the pits and grooves of your teeth. Nutritious choices increase saliva flow, which is protective against the acid lingering on the teeth to ward off cavities.
Keep current with your dental checkups: While you already know it’s important to brush and floss your teeth at home, it’s just as important to see a dental professional twice a year for thorough plaque and tartar removal. During your preventative care dental exams, your dentist can identify any threats to your oral health, like tartar buildup, gum disease, or crowded teeth.
Chew sugar-free gum: The American Dental Association (ADA) awards its ADA Seal to gum brands that demonstrate their sugarless gum product meets specific criteria, such as reducing plaque acid, promoting tooth enamel remineralization, reducing gum disease, and reducing tooth decay. Sugarless gum increases saliva flow, which is protective against acids that can lead to cavities.
Preventative Dentistry at Northwest Dental Group
At Northwest Dental Group, our team of dental professionals has the same goal you do: To wish you well at the end of an appointment where we give you a clean bill of health and find zero cavities in your mouth. Our mission is to provide a comfortable dental office atmosphere from approachable dental professionals who put the utmost importance on your oral health and overall wellbeing.For high-quality preventative dentistry, contact us online or call our office at (507) 203-2332 today.