How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is the destruction of the hard protective outer layer of your tooth’s enamel. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms in your mouth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Over time, these acid attacks weaken and destroy the enamel, forming a cavity.
Minerals such as calcium and phosphate in our saliva and fluoride from toothpaste, water, and other sources help the tooth enamel repair itself by replacing minerals lost during the acid attacks. By practicing good oral and dental hygiene you can avoid cavities and prevent tooth decay.
Follow these tips to prevent tooth decay:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and ideally after every meal using fluoride-containing toothpaste. If you can’t brush after eating, at least rinse your mouth with water. If you have young children, supervise when they brush, making sure they don’t swallow toothpaste and that they brush thoroughly.
- Clean between your teeth. Use dental floss or interdental cleaners daily to remove food debris and bacteria that promote tooth decay.
- Drink fluoridated tap water. 74% of Americans served by community water supply systems receive fluoridated water. If you only drink bottled water you are likely missing out on the benefits that come drinking fluoridated tap water.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking. Some foods are better for your teeth than others. According to the ADA, one of the first areas to decline when your diet is less than ideal is your oral health. Carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels, and chips can remain on your tooth surface for long periods and promote tooth decay, while foods like leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables promote oral health.
- Consider dental sealants. Sealants are thin plastic coating applied to the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This is where most tooth decay in children and teens occurs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sealants for all school-age children. Ask Dr. Roberts if dental sealants are right for you.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Get professional teeth cleanings and regular oral exams so that Dr. Roberts and her staff can prevent potential problems or spot them early.
Following these simple tips to prevent tooth decay will make a big difference when it comes to maintaining your healthy smile.