Preventing cavities is not a one-time activity. It’s an ongoing process to get and keep plaque, which is a sticky substance that builds up in our mouths, off our teeth. Why? Because cavities are the result of the bacterial acid that grows on the plaque and attacks the enamel on the surface of the teeth. Tooth enamel may be hard and strong, but by and large, it’s no match for plaque bacteria. In order to make sure cavities don’t poke their ugly selves above the horizon of a decently healthy mouth, the health of teeth (and gums) need some TLC every day. That’s the bad news. The good news is that preventing cavities and gum disease is surprisingly simple. Only three daily steps are necessary to keep teeth healthy. For a few rare souls, cavities and tooth loss occur no matter how rigorous their oral hygiene is; this is mostly because of genetics. Most of us, however, benefit hugely from taking care of our teeth.
THAT we brush is the most important thing. The exact technique used and the type of toothbrush and toothpaste we use also matter. Brushing removes the plaque and bacteria that stick to the surfaces of teeth and eventually lead to cavities. A soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste help improve results.
Teeth have five surfaces. Brushing takes care of three of them. Flossing cleans the other two – the interdental surfaces. Flossing also gets ride of any food particles that may be stuck between teeth. In addition to classic dental floss, floss picks are now available that make it as easy to floss as using a toothpick. The excuses of inconvenient and messy have disappeared.
At its most basic level, visiting the dentist according to the dentist’s recommendations, helps keep the whole mouth healthy. This includes gums, tongue, sides of the mouth, and the roof of the mouth. The dentist is trained to notice what’s healthy and what needs attention. He or she can also help determine cavity risk level and perhaps recommend a dental sealant, a specific type of toothpaste, or mouthwash to address specific individual needs. When working with all relevant facts, it’s possible to put together a plan to minimize the chance that cavities will develop.
If sipping on soda or juice is a treasured practice, the habit may be difficult to break or change. Sugar, though, in any form, is horrible for teeth. Almost everyone has heard of the experiment in which a tooth was dissolved by being left in a dark soda. It is worth it to stop between-meals intake of any sugary food or drink. Switching to sugar free snack items or sugar free gum, or water, improves overall health as well as helping oral/dental health.
This is usually a prerogative of the local water utility. Drinking fluoridated water helps strengthen tooth enamel, which makes it more difficult for plaque and bacteria to begin their destructive processes. Preventing cavities takes only minutes a day and a little mindfulness. Also, the entire body benefits from good oral and dental hygiene practices. Even a person’s psychological well-being improves when he or she flashes a clean, healthy smile. White teeth and fresh breath are hard to beat.