What are cavities?
Cavities are holes created by bacteria inside your teeth that can be very damaging, and they may damage the tooth enamel or connect to the pulp and cause an infection such as gum disease or a tooth abscess.
Cavities are often caused by dental plaque, which is the sticky film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth throughout the day. The harmful bacteria produce acids, which break down the surface of your teeth, and these acids are very destructive.
The most common culprit is the bacterium known as salivary Streptococcus mutans. The acids in plaque remove minerals from the enamel, and a cavity forms once the acid damage spreads into the dentin layer underneath the enamel.
If you brush or floss regularly, it can help get rid of the plaque and prevent cavities.
Other factors may also contribute to getting cavities. These include alignment issues, how often you eat or drink starchy foods, how often you consume fermentable carbohydrates (such as candy), how well-hydrated your mouth is, and how much teeth grinding occurs.
The combination of these things will result in the risk of getting cavities. So how can you avoid dental cavities at home?
Home Remedies to Prevent Dental Cavities
Many home remedies can help protect and prevent dental caries from occurring. Some of these remedies include:
- Reduce how often you eat or drink starchy foods, such as cookies, cakes, crackers, chips, and other savory snacks.
- Don’t chew on ice cubes or hard candies.
- Eat cheese if you crave something sweet – it’s an alternative that does not damage any teeth. However, it will provide less of a cavity-fighting benefit than eating a piece of fruit like an apple.
- Make sure you brush your teeth after eating anything acidic, such as oranges or grapefruit juice, lemons, tomatoes and tomato sauce, limes, pineapples, and coconut milk. These are foods that can weaken the tooth structure if consumed too often.
- You should avoid sticky foods, and this includes chewing sugar-free gum. Even if you use sugar-free gum, it can still damage the tooth enamel, so it is still important to limit gum use.
- Limit how often you consume sugary beverages, such as regular soda pop, energy drinks, flavored water, juice drinks that are not 100% juice, sweetened tea or coffee, or alcoholic beverages.
Techniques to Prevent Tooth Decay
Besides avoiding sugary drinks and sugary foods, there are many techniques you can use at home to help reduce your risk of developing cavities.
Brushing Your Teeth
It is essential to brush your teeth at least twice each day, preferably after every meal. Make sure to brush your teeth for at least two minutes, using an ADA-approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste (check the label for approval). Even children with baby teeth should brush their teeth often to prevent decay and disease.
Brushing removes plaque from the enamel surface of your teeth. The ingredients in toothpaste, such as fluoride, can help strengthen your teeth against dental caries. Brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the side of teeth, chewing surfaces, and front. Brushing your tongue is also an excellent way to prevent cavities by removing plaque from the back of the mouth, where it can do more damage.
Flossing Your Teeth
Flossing removes food particles and dental plaque from between your teeth. If you have tight spaces between your teeth, you can use floss threaders to make it easier to get in-between your teeth. You want to floss your teeth at least twice a day or in between meals.
Rinsing Your Mouth with Fluoride Rinse
After brushing and flossing each morning, throughout the day, when possible, rinse with water that contains fluoride to help protect against cavities. You can also take a mouthful of water and gently swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit out. If you don’t have access to fluoride water, you can use a fluoride rinse after brushing and flossing instead.
Using Fluoride Toothpaste
The most important thing you can do to prevent tooth decay is to brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that prevents cavities in your teeth.
Fluoride is in many sources, such as tap water and fluoride treatments provided by dentists to strengthen teeth. Fluoride helps protect the enamel and can slow the tooth decay process before it becomes a cavity. Preventing cavity-causing bacteria is essential to your oral health and saving your permanent teeth.
Visiting the Dentist Regularly
Regular dental checkups are not something you can do at home, but they are essential in preventing tooth decay. A dental professional can not only deep clean your teeth in areas that can be harder to reach but also identify the early signs of decay or if you have a dental cavity.
Once there is evidence of tooth decay, the dentist is your first line of defense to get rid of cavities. The tooth’s enamel will not restore itself if a cavity is already present, so it is essential to have cavities treated by a dentist before they progress. If cavities are left untreated, they can lead to further decay and gum disease, resulting in the need for root canals to restore your teeth.
For young children and adults, a dentist can place dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth that will add an extra layer of protection.
Schedule a Visit at Lake Jeanette Today!
As a parent, you want to ensure your children have the best foundation and understanding of the importance of proper dental hygiene. At Lake Jeanette Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry in Greensboro, NC, we provide comprehensive dental care for our younger patients. Our team of dental professionals is here to help provide the best techniques and preventatives for your children’s dental health.
For more information about or practice or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 336-286-0200!