How to Avoid Cavities for Life
Getting a cavity is no fun, and it can happen to you at any age. Cavities are not just for kids, and when they happen in your adult teeth, they can cause many problems. But the good news is that, according to Steve Weinstein, DDS, owner of a private practice in Philadelphia, Pa., “Cavities are very preventable.” Weinstein says there are three contributing factors to how many or how few cavities a person may get in their lifetime: genetics, diet and hygiene. “Since, you can’t do anything about your genes; you need to control your diet and oral hygiene,” he says. Here are a few tips on how to succeed in managing what foods you eat, and how to take care of your mouth.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It might seem like common sense, but brushing your teeth after you eat, and especially prior to going to sleep, plays a huge role in fighting cavities. There are certain things you can do to make brushing your teeth more effective, such as choosing the right tools. Many dentists, such as Nancy Rosen, a cosmetic dentist in New York City, believe that using an electronic tooth brush can drastically reduce a patient’s chance of developing cavities or other conditions. “I love the electric toothbrushes,” Rosen says. “These toothbrushes remove much more plaque than manual toothbrushes.”
Don’t forget to floss. Brushing alone won’t reduce the likelihood of cavities. Enter: floss. In order to avoid cavities, you must understand not only the importance of flossing, but how to floss the right way. According to the American Dental Association, flossing is imperative in order to reach bacteria nestled in places that your toothbrush misses. If you are having a hard time using traditional floss, try a threader, which works similarly to a sewing threader, in that a thin, plastic loop helps to pull the floss through tight spaces. There are also easy-to-use floss picks that fit inside your pocket or purse for on-the-go flossing.
Avoid sugary and acidic foods. To keep those pearly whites healthy (and, obviously, pearly white), it’s important to watch what you are putting in your mouth. Sugary foods in particular have a negative influence on how many cavities you get. Sodas, candies, cakes and even dried fruits can wreak havoc on your mouth. Dr. Weinstein explains, “Avoiding sugar is key, and sugar is often added to many different processed foods, so it is important pay attention to food labels to see what you are actually eating.” Other seemingly healthy foods like most citrus and tomatoes are fine in moderation, but you do not want to spend most of your day consuming lemonade or pasta sauce, as your teeth will not benefit. If you keep your diet in check, your mouth will thank you.
Schedule and attend regular dentist cleanings. It might not seem like a big deal, but having your teeth cleaned regularly helps to avoid cavities. Your dentist has the ability and the tools necessary to dig deep around your teeth in places that you might miss on your own. For example, many people do not brush around the gum line, causing a lot of plaque to build up and potentially cause problems. Your dentist can get in there, clean it, and let you know which areas need a little more TLC. They can also apply sealants – which operate exactly how they sound – providing protection and a seal over the tooth in order to prevent cavities. So if you are really looking for how to avoid cavities for life, please make sure to visit your dentist bi-annually for a regular cleaning. If your doctor does happen to find a cavity or a troubled area, they are able to take care of it right away before it manifests into a larger issue.
Chew sugarless gum. People with dry mouth have an increased likelihood of developing cavities and can often be stricken with many mouth issues due to a lack of saliva. Luckily, while you cannot control your genes, you can generate saliva and therefore improve your chances of reducing cavities by taking the situation into your own hands. Your dentist can prescribe artificial saliva and mouth moisturizers, but it is also helpful to chew sugarless gum, which stimulates salvia production. Chewing sugarless gum is also beneficial in that it pulls food particles out from between your teeth that you could otherwise miss when cleaning your teeth after a meal.