Learn how to prevent cavities to keep you and your mouth smiling. No one likes to hear that they have a cavity when they visit their dentist. Prevent the hassle by following these 5 easy, less thought of, steps for cavity prevention. While brushing and flossing are commonly known to ward off cavities, the other tips might surprise you!
Change Your Toothbrush to Prevent Cavities
So, you often hear about the importance of brushing your teeth to fight off cavities, but don’t forget the importance of making sure the tool you use–your toothbrush–is in the shape required to be effective. When choosing what type of toothbrush to use, consider the size, shape, and bristles. Soft-bristled toothbrushes can reach all areas of your mouth without difficulty and protect your gums from the harm hard bristles can cause. It is important to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if you see the bristles fraying.
Use Toothpaste Approved by the American Dental Association
Another important strategy for fighting and preventing cavities is to be choosey when it comes to toothpaste. Not all toothpastes are created equally! Flip it over and look for the ADA symbol on the packaging. This symbol indicates that the toothpaste has been rigorously tested by the American Dental Association and shown to be effective. Also look for toothpaste that is fortified with fluoride. By selecting a fluoride-fortified toothpaste you further protect your teeth from cavities. Fluoride fortified toothpastes help to remove plaque–a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums every day. Plaque is the leading cause of gum disease and tooth decay, but can be easily prevented from building up. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel of your teeth.
Invest in Dental Sealants to Prevent Cavities
According to the ADA, dental sealants reduce the risk of cavities on permanent molars by 80 percent. And unlike some floating rumors out there, dental sealants are very safe. Just by breathing in and out everyday, you are exposed to 100 times more BPA than is found in dental sealants. New guidelines from the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry confirm the effectiveness of sealants. Sealants are used to fill narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. In some cases, the tooth structure has fine grooves or pits which accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn’t brush, but because they’re too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. To avoid cavities developing over time, the dentist will brush on a coating that seals the grooves and pits, making it possible to brush off all the plaque and keep your teeth healthy.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum to Help Prevent Cavities
Chewing sugar-free gum is recommended to help prevent cavities. This tip often surprises our younger crowd. (Remember, we are talking about sugar-free gum.) Especially effective is sugar-free gum made with xylitol–a natural sugar substitute. Xylitol has been shown to help prevent cavities and decay from taking up residence in your mouth. According to studies, Xylitol works at fighting cavities because bacteria that cause tooth decay cannot: 1) utilize it to grow; and 2) cannot metabolize it to produce acid. Xylitol comes in both a gum and mint form and works best if it is used 3-5 times per day (or 5 grams per day). Make sure it is the first ingredient listed on your mint or gum ingredient list to ensure you are getting enough Xylitol to combat bacteria.
Use a Straw to Help Prevent Cavities
One of the best ways to prevent cavities is ease off the soda and sugary drinks. If you do choose to have a soda, you can help minimize the effect of acidic sodas on your teeth by using a straw. Try not to let the straw come in contact with your teeth while you use it to drink. Now, just because a straw can help minimize the effect of sodas and liquid sugars on your teeth doesn’t give you free license to drink away! You should still limit your consumption of these products to safeguard your teeth and your overall health.
Keep Your Stress Level Down
Stress is not something to dismiss lightly. Too much stress can have serious consequences for your teeth and gums. Teeth grinding, canker sores, gum disease, TMJ disorder, and neglecting your oral hygiene are five of the ways stress can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Learn what you can do to avoid these pitfalls from the stresses of life. Talk to Dr. Niles if you feel that the stress in your life is causing negative effects on your oral health. We are here to help! We can also provide you with a nightguard if you need one to protect your teeth from night teeth grinding.
Make Nutritious Food Choices to Help Prevent Cavities
Eating a balanced diet is important for your overall health as well as the health of your teeth. Certain food choices greatly impact the strength, color, appearance, and health of your gums and mouth. Regardless of your age, there are foods that supply essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to the stability and chemistry of your teeth. Fruits and Vegetables that contain a high volume of water–such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumber–are best. Foods high in water help balance ingested sugars and help to clean the teeth. Many fruits and vegetables also contain vitamin C (important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds) and vitamin A (another key nutrient in building tooth enamel). Fruits like bananas and raisins are comprised of lots concentrated sugar so make sure you brush your teeth soon after you eat these fruits. Leafy greens are great sources of calcium too. Both calcium and phosphorus rebuild and protect your tooth enamel and are vital to your dental health.
Call for a Consultation
If you want to improve your smile, and learn more about keeping cavities away, Niles Family Dentistry is here to help you. Our state of the art dental techniques and warm, friendly, fun environment are designed to help you enjoy the process of obtaining a beautiful, healthy smile. Call today for a free consultation at (720) 744-0001. Niles Family Dentistry serves the families of the Niwot, Longmont & Boulder communities. We look forward to meeting you and your family.