Perhaps the three most dreaded words to hear at a dentist appointment are “you have cavities.” Tooth decay is the second most prevalent disease in the United States, just behind the common cold.
Adhering to the following tips will help prevent tooth decay.
1. One of the best ways to prevent cavities is to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. It’s recommended that you brush after each meal and especially before going to bed. If you can’t brush after eating, make an attempt to at least wash your mouth out with water.
2. Use dental floss, or an inter-dental cleaner, daily to remove dental plaque and food debris stuck between your teeth. Some studies show that flossing is just as important, if not more important, as brushing.
3. Eat healthy and balanced meals with little-to-no sugar. Chips, candies, cookies and other carbohydrate-dense snacks can stick to your teeth and become lodged in cracks, increasing your chances of developing decay. Some studies indicate that cheese and other dairy products may aid in the prevention of cavities. Avoid sugary drinks at all costs.
4. Because many cavities can only be detected by professional dental evaluation, visiting your dentist for checkups at least two times a year is a critical component to staying cavity-free.
5. Consider having dental sealants placed on your back-teeth to protect from bacteria and plaque. Dental sealants are a proactive treatment in which a protective plastic material is applied to one or more teeth to seal grooves and cracks where plaque often accumulates.
6. Chew a sugar-free gum containing Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener. It is also said to have decay-preventive qualities because bacteria that causes cavities cannot use the Xylitol to grow and cannot metabolize it to produce acid.
7. The final step in cavity prevention should be daily use of an antimicrobial mouthwash containing fluoride, which has been shown to reduce plaque by up to 26 percent when compared to a placebo mouthwash. If you are especially susceptible to cavities, consult your dentist about obtaining a special antibacterial mouthwash.