Staying on Top of Your Teeth
Tooth decay not only rots your teeth – it ruins your smile! There are many ways you can stay on top of your teeth to avoid tooth decay (better known as a cavity) that can become both unattractive and very costly.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay erodes (wears away) the enamel (outer layer) on your teeth. Bacteria live in the plaque that forms between and around your teeth. When this bacteria mixes with sugar from the foods you eat, it creates acids that erode tooth enamel and create holes, or cavities, in your teeth. So…when you eat sugary foods, you’re actually “feeding” the bacteria in your mouth!
What Can I Do to Prevent Tooth Decay?
Actually, there’s quite a lot you can do to minimize tooth decay. Your diet has more to do with prevention than you may think! While brushing and flossing are certainly necessary, most tooth decay starts within minutes of eating sugary foods. Important steps you can take to reduce your risk of tooth decay include:
- Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night, with fluoride toothpaste, to help eliminate bacteria in dental plaque.
- Use a soft toothbrush that is able to reach all parts of your mouth – smaller may actually be better. Remember to replace toothbrushes frequently, at least every 3-4 months.
- Floss between your teeth daily. Bacteria tend to “camp out” between teeth – right where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles lodged between your teeth and just beneath your gum line. Plastic flossing tools, available in many pharmacies and markets, are sometimes easier to manipulate than floss alone!
- Limit your exposure to sugar and sweet snacks, especially between meals. Remember that sugar combines with bacteria to produce acid – the same acid that causes tooth decay.
- Drink lots of water, especially after eating. Water helps to wash away any sugary residue left on teeth.
Don’t Forget Regular Check Ups!
Remember, regular dental cleanings and examinations are extremely important to your oral health. Call a participating dentist in your area to schedule an appointment if it’s been some time since you were last in to see a dentist. The best way to stay ahead of tooth decay is to stay on top of your teeth!