Tooth decay starts with the erosion of your enamel—the outer layer of your teeth—but eventually reaches the dentin and the tooth root, and cavities are not just for kids!
Sugar is often emphasized, but any food that contains carbohydrates can be the culprit. That includes milk and bread, and other foods that we often think of as healthy. You have bacteria in your mouth that assists with digestion. But bacteria, acid, and saliva combine to create a sticky film called plaque. Plaque clings to teeth, and the acids it contains attack your teeth and eventually create tiny holes.
Preventing Plaque Formation
Avoiding plaque is thus crucial to preventing tooth decay. You should:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before bed.
- Rinse your mouth vigorously with water after other meals.
- Rinse with a therapeutic mouthwash once a day.
- Floss between your teeth gums once a day as well.
- Enjoy a well-balanced diet.
- Limit snacking and carbohydrate-rich foods.
- Rinse with water and perhaps chew a piece of sugar-free gum after you do snack.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam.
- Ask your dentist about in-office fluoride treatments, which strengthen your teeth.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants, which can make it easier to keep teeth plaque-free.
Tooth Decay Prevention Products on the Horizon
Did you know that tooth decay prevention is an evolving science? Dental medicine has progressed considerably just in the last couple of decades, and researchers are working on new means of prevention as you read this. One recent notable study found that chewing sugar-free gum with the sweetener xylitol after meals and snacks helped curb plaque-causing bacteria. Other products that slowly release fluoride over time are currently being evaluated. When the FDA clears these products, dentists will be able to install them between your teeth and even in tooth fissures. Toothpastes and mouthwashes that actually reverse early cavities are also being tested.
Keep Your Pearly Whites Cavity-Free
Preventing tooth decay starts at home with consistently brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. You also need to see your dentist twice a year. A comprehensive cleaning and exam are essential to eliminating missed plaque and tartar and early diagnosis of other dental issues. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is a leading dentist in Scottsdale who provides all the preventative dental care you need. Call Scottsdale Dental Excellence today at 480 585 1853 with any questions and to schedule your checkup.