When we visit the dentist, most of us don’t want to hear that we have a cavity. It means that you’ll need to spend more time at the dentist’s office. You may need to pay more. And some of us—the straight-A types—just don’t want to hear that we’ve made a mistake. Fortunately, it’s always possible to improve your dental hygiene habits.
How Can You Avoid Cavities and Dental Decay?
Do you want to avoid tooth decay and cavities? Think about general principles first. Cavities are caused by a buildup of bacteria. They protect themselves by creating a sticky film called plaque, which also releases acid that damages the outer layers of your teeth.
Bacteria depend on the sugars in foods and drinks in order to grow. So your own habits are vital for controlling plaque and protecting your teeth. Here are seven habits you can build that will help you keep your smile healthy and free of decay!
1. Daily Tooth Brushing
We all need to brush our teeth at least twice a day. Toothpaste with fluoride helps to add more minerals to your teeth, which they need in order to strengthen their walls. Brush every part of each tooth, especially first thing in the morning and before bed at night—the hours when bacteria have the most time to grow undisturbed.
2. Clean Between Your Teeth
A toothbrush often won’t catch the food between your teeth, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. That’s why you should use either floss or another type of cleaning tool that reaches between your teeth. If it’s hard to build this habit, start small; leave your floss in a prominent place on your bathroom cabinet, or leave other reminders for yourself where you’ll see them.
3. Update Your Foods and Drinks
If you snack between meals, focus on getting good sources of nutrition that will give your body natural energy and focus, instead of reaching for a sugary candy bar that can prompt bacteria growth. Drink water instead of something with sugar in it; soda is a major source of tooth decay.
4. Rinse Your Mouth
If you’ve had any cavity trouble before, you may be motivated to use a mouthwash, like Crest Pro Health or Listerine. They have been shown to control bacteria and fight plaque. If you immediately use a mouthwash for 30 seconds after you brush, it can quickly become part of your tooth brushing routine, and you’ll continue to use it in the long-term almost without effort.
5. Enjoy a Sugarless Gum
Your own saliva is designed to add natural minerals to your teeth. If you chew sugarless gum after a meal, it can partially control food particles and stimulate your own saliva to protect your teeth. Look for an American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on certain brands of gum and other products for extra peace of mind.
6. Schedule Regular Dental Cleanings
As good as your own habits are, a professional cleaning is an amazing complement to the dental care you do at home. The oral hygienist will use tools that find and remove bacteria from difficult-to-reach hiding places, and your dentist can use x-ray technology to catch any decay in the earliest stages.
7. Get Dental Sealants
A dental sealant is a thin protective layer that keeps bacteria away from certain teeth. Sealants are especially useful for back teeth that are harder to clean. They can supplement your own tooth brushing habits and are also an excellent protection for children’s teeth.
Ace Your Next Dental Checkup
It’s exciting to get to the end of a dental exam and hear the dentist say, “It looks great; you’re all set.” No cavities, no worries, no extra work. It feels good, and it’s a fully achievable goal. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning or to learn more about developing good hygiene habits!