It’s never fun to hear the words “you have a cavity,” but unfortunately cavities are very common. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 91% of Americans ages 20 and older have had one or more cavities. Thankfully, most cavities are preventable if you know how to ward them off. Let’s look at 3 effective ways to keep cavities away, so you can keep your smile healthy and strong.
1. Daily Brushing and Flossing
It may sound too simple to be true, but one of the most effective ways to keep cavities away is to brush and floss your teeth daily. This is because the simple act of brushing and flossing clears away bacteria containing plaque before it has a chance to harm your teeth. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it can erode the outer layer of your teeth, known as the enamel, and form tiny holes, which is what cavities are. If the holes, or cavities, are not treated promptly and filled, they can expose the inner layers of the tooth to bacteria, which can lead to infection of the pulp or root of the tooth, requiring more extensive treatment such as a root canal or tooth extraction.
Dentists typically recommend brushing your teeth 3 times a day or after each meal for 2 minutes at a time with a soft bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. It’s also recommended that you floss daily.
2. Adding Fluoride to Your Routine
Fluoride is also a great weapon against cavities. Studies have shown that fluoride added to a city’s water supply can reduce cavities by 60% in children. Fluoride has also been shown to help protect adult teeth against demineralization as well as help to remineralize teeth. If your teeth have become sensitive from the early stages of tooth decay, fluoride is also known to help reduce sensitivity. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why dentists recommend fluoride so highly!
3. Regular Exams and Cleanings
Practicing a good home care regimen is important, but in order to prevent cavities, it’s also necessary to see your dentist regularly, usually every 6 months, for a dental exam and professional cleaning. It’s common for difficult to reach areas between the teeth or at the back of the mouth that are not visible to harbor plaque and develop cavities unnoticed, so it’s important to have a professional cleaning done routinely to ensure that no difficult spots turn into problems. It’s also important to get regular exams because your dentist can check your teeth for any signs of softening which can indicate early tooth decay and can also perform x-rays to check the health of the inner layers of your teeth.
Regular exams and cleanings can also be a great chance to talk with your dentist about effective ways to keep cavities away so that your dentist can make recommendations specific to the health of your teeth and home care regimen. If you struggle with any difficult to clean areas or health conditions that can lead to an increased risk of cavities, for example, your dentist may recommend a concentrated fluoride treatment or prescribe a special mouthwash. Your dentist is an expert in the practice of fighting cavities, so make an appointment today if you have any further questions!
Call our Austin or Georgetown dental offices to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.