Ten Ways to Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay
At Parker West Dental Associates in Plano, TX, we firmly believe in teaching our patients prevention. Knowledge is power in the fight to keep cavities, gum disease, other problems at bay. When these significant problems affect your oral health, they’re often more challenging to treat, costly, and time-consuming. Proper oral hygiene is the first line of defense for ensuring your mouth stays in tip-top shape. Our team at Parker West Dental Associates is pleased to share some excellent tips to help keep your teeth healthy, strong, and beautiful for a lifetime.
1. Brush regularly.
While this may sound obvious, this helpful reminder for brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. Try counting in your head while you brush your teeth for at least two minutes. Singing a song in your head or placing a timer on the counter can help pass the time and ensure that you’re brushing long enough. It's a good idea to assist younger children with cleaning their teeth until they’re able to brush correctly on their own.
2. Use mouthwash.
Mouthwash is an added protection against tooth decay. After brushing your teeth, follow up with mouthwash to help further minimize harmful oral bacteria and plaque. Swish the mouthwash for 30 seconds in your mouth before spitting it out.
3. Flossing is important.
Brushing alone isn’t sufficient in keeping cavities at bay. Flossing is an important step that many people forgo. Flossing reaches areas that toothbrushes can’t get to and also helps to remove objects lodged between the teeth. This simple habit is excellent at helping to minimize the risk of cavities.
4. Teach your children.
Children love to mimic their parents. Often, parents are the first ones to teach children how to brush their teeth, so it’s important to lead by example. Scheduling semi-annual routine cleanings are also another way to teach them the value of maintaining good oral hygiene.
5. Chew sugarless gum
Did you know that chewing sugarless gum can actually help to prevent the formation of cavities? Well, it is true. Gum chewing promotes an increase in saliva in the mouth. Saliva is the responsible agent for both neutralizing and washing away the acid from foods we eat that can potentially cause damage to your teeth’s enamel, leading to cavities.
6. Pay attention.
You know your body best. If you notice or feel the signs of tooth decay, it’s essential to visit the dentist for an evaluation. Most often, the first sign of tooth decay is persistent tooth sensitivity. You may notice a sharp pain when you drink or eat something hot or cold. As tooth decay progresses, you may experience headaches, painful chewing, tooth discoloration, and finally, visible pits or holes. Avoiding treatment for a cavity won’t make it go away. If you do have tooth decay, treating it early on can minimize the extent of damage and your treatment needs.
7. Consider dental sealants.
Dental sealants are an excellent choice for avoiding cavities. Sealants are a flexible, plastic material placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth, or premolars and molars. Sealants can help to reduce the risk of cavities in this area since the crevices on top of your back teeth can trap bacteria and leave them more vulnerable to tooth decay. While sealants are usually recommended for children, since they’re at a higher risk for decay, these protective coatings may also be ideal for adults who are prone to developing cavities.
8. Eat and drink tooth-healthy items.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay love sugar in food and drinks. Sugary substances make it easier for tooth decay to develop. It's essential to pay attention to what you and your children are eating and drinking. If you eat or drink something that has a high sugar content, it's best to brush your teeth right away. The longer the sugar stays on the teeth, the more harm it can cause.
9. Use fluoride treatments for protection.
Fluoride treatments are great for kids and adults. Many dentists suggest professional fluoride treatments for children starting at six years old until they’re about 16 – 18 years old. However, if an adult is prone to developing cavities, a professional fluoride treatment may be very beneficial to their oral health. Our general dentists in Plano, TX offer fluoride treatments and may recommend a prescription fluoride mouthwash, toothpaste, and tablets to use between visits, if necessary to protect your smile.
10. Visit your dentist regularly.
Routine dental cleanings and dental exams are incredibly important for not only cleaning your teeth thoroughly but also assessing the state of your teeth and gums. Your oral health is dependent on knowing what’s going on inside of your mouth. During the routine appointment, your teeth will be cleaned and polished, and your dentist will provide a thorough examination of your teeth for any concerns or potential problems. X-rays may also be taken to see if something is going on with the teeth or bone that may not be visible to the naked eye. The sooner the dental problems are identified, the faster treatment can begin.
Are you ready to protect your teeth?
If it’s time to schedule routine dental cleanings and dental exams for your family, then please contact our general dentistry practice in Plano, TX for your appointment. These necessary and preventative visits will help to keep tooth decay at bay. Plus, you’ll love how smooth and clean your teeth feel after your professional dental cleanings. Our highly skilled dentists and staff will make you feel comfortable and explain the treatment process step-by-step. We look forward to seeing you at Parker West Dental Associates!