One in four adults have cavities, and more than half of teenagers in the US have had cavities. Oral health is often taken for granted, but it is an essential part of our everyday lives. It’s never too late to take control of your oral health and prevent dental problems.
Many people have cavities, but they are not aware of them. Others show signs of developing cavities. So, what exactly is a cavity, and how can you take steps to prevent them?
Cavities, also called dental caries, are small pits in the tooth. They occur when the tooth’s enamel, or protective outer surface, starts to erode. Even though enamel is a hard substance, this protective layer can develop tiny holes when bacteria and acids corrode the enamel’s outer shell. The combination of acids and bacteria forms a thin colorless film on the teeth called plague. If it is left untreated, this can eventually lead to the formation of cavities. Of course, since you cannot see or easily detect plaque, cavities can quickly form before you know it.
Candy, fruit juice, sugary drinks, soft drinks, processed carbohydrates, sports drinks, corn syrup, and acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, and tomatoes can all accelerate the rate of cavity formation. Therefore, it is important to limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks.
Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Because of the huge bacteria and plaque fighting power it provides in just a few minutes a day, brushing your teeth is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to prevent cavities. Be sure to brush after meals and before bed. Brushing before bed (after your late night snack) is particularly important because letting those bacteria linger on your teeth overnight can allow enamel damaging acid to form. Floss at least once a day, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.
Eating a diet of whole, natural foods will go a long way toward optimal dental health as well. Drink more water, too! Drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities.
Remember to visit your dentist for regular checkups and stay on top of teeth cleanings. Schedule your next appointment with Stasny Dental today!