5 Ways to Prevent Cavities

Did you know that nearly half of all children in the United States have cavities? Unfortunately, the number of Americans struggling with this type of dental decay only rises with age. Over 92% of adults age 20 and older report having cavities. 

Cavities, or dental caries, develop when bacteria begin to eat away the hard outer layer, or enamel, of your teeth. This happens when plaque, the sticky film of bacteria constantly forming on your teeth, responds to the sugar particles in your food and beverages. 

The sugar triggers the production of acid that attacks your dental enamel, and because plaque is sticky, it keeps these acids on your teeth, causing a breakdown in enamel over time. The result is a small hole in your tooth called a cavity. 

At the private practice of Robert F. Wilcox, DMD, we’re committed to helping our patients in Butte, Montana, attain the best oral health possible. As part of our comprehensive line of restorative dentistry services, Dr. Wilcox offers a range of solutions for adults and children alike who struggle with dental decay like cavities.   

To help keep your teeth cavity-free, we created a list of our top five ways to stop cavities before they start. Read on to learn what you need to know about preventing cavities. 

1. Drink more water

Everyone knows water is important for a healthy body, but did you know that drinking water is also essential for optimal oral health? Beverages containing sugar or those high in acid, like coffee and carbonated soft drinks, promote the erosion of enamel and hasten the development of dental caries. 

Water, on the other hand, washes away leftover food and sugary deposits that cavity-causing bacteria feed on. It also reduces the level of acidity in your mouth by diluting the acids these bacteria produce. 

Water also helps keep your mouth moist and prevents dry mouth, a condition that results when you’re low on saliva. Saliva is your mouth’s primary cavity-fighting defense tool, as it helps you swallow food and keeps excess particles off your teeth. 

In addition, most tap water in the US contains fluoride, which helps strengthen your dental enamel, keeping you safer from cavities while keeping you hydrated.

2. Brush the right way

Regular brushing helps get rid of the dental plaque that forms on your teeth after you eat and drink. By getting rid of the bacteria and plaque every time you brush, you lower the risk of developing cavities. 

The American Dental Association recommends using a soft toothbrush and moving the brush back and forth in short strokes along the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth. Use the tip of the brush to clean the surfaces of your front teeth with an up-and-down motion. 

Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antimicrobial mouthwash for extra protection against decay, and don’t forget to swap out your old toothbrush for a new one every 4-6 months. 

3. Floss regularly

Because floss reaches between your teeth, it can remove plaque and other debris that brushing alone doesn’t remove. We can show you the best flossing techniques for your teeth, including methods for patients with dental conditions that can make flossing a challenge, like sensitive gums. 

For optimal oral health, floss at least once every day. Flossing shouldn’t be painful, but if you’ve skipped flossing for a while, your gums may be sensitive. Stick with regular flossing, and the discomfort should resolve within a week. Talk to Dr. Wilcox if you experience persistent pain. 

4. Just say no to tobacco

While most of our patients understand the general health risks smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products brings, many aren’t aware that tobacco products severely damage your teeth, contributing to an increased risk of dental decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss.

5. Schedule and keep regular dental exams

One of the best ways to prevent cavities is to schedule and keep regular dental exams and cleanings

Not only do routine visits every six months allow our team to deeply clean your teeth and gums and remove any cavity-causing plaque, but these visits to the dentist also offer an opportunity to better understand your cavity risk. 

Dr. Wilcox examines your teeth and lets you know where you stand, which treatments you may require, and what changes you may need to make in your oral hygiene and diet to lower your risk of developing cavities and other dental troubles. 

For patients at high risk of developing cavities, we may recommend more frequent cleanings. 

Learn more about preventing cavities and schedule a preventive cleaning by contacting us today at Robert F. Wilcox, DMD, PC, in Butte, Montana.

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