How to Prevent Cavities: 4 Must-Do's to Protect Those Pearly Whites
By Jaime Hollander
More than nine in ten U.S. adults have at least one cavity. While a percentage of cavities can be attributed to genetics and pre-existing conditions, the majority can be linked back to lax brushing and overall oral hygiene. Focus on your dental health by taking the following steps to prevent plaque, enamel loss and tooth decay, and you’ll decrease your likelihood of getting cavities now and in the future.
So, what causes cavities? As you eat and drink throughout the day, food particles cause bacteria and plaque to form in your mouth. If not removed by brushing and flossing, plaque can form, destroying enamel and creating small holes in your teeth -- cavities. Left untreated, cavities can grow and expand, eventually affecting a tooth’s root or the surrounding gums. This can lead to gum disease, root canals and more.
How can you prevent cavities? While virtually all adults have at least some tooth decay, it’s easier than ever to prevent the spread of bacteria, plaque and, ultimately, cavities.
- Curb your sweet tooth: Sugary and starchy foods can be a major source of cavities, since these go-tos leave more acid on teeth than average. Sodas, fruit juices and energy drinks are some of the worst cavity triggers -- eliminating these alone will have a significant impact on your oral health. When you do eat these foods, be sure to brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash immediately after. The faster you banish acid and bacteria from your mouth, the less likely those elements are to cause plaque and future cavities.
- Go to the dentist regularly: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one in four American adults has at least one untreated cavity. Be sure you’re maintaining annual or twice-annual dentist appointments so any cavities can be filled. What’s more, your dentist may be able to offer you treatments to remove and prevent plaque from building up on teeth.
- Brush twice a day: Be sure to brush with a fluoride toothpaste and rinse with mouthwash at least twice per day. Additionally, daily flossing will help remove food particles and plaque build up from teeth, preventing cavities and keeping your entire mouth cleaner and healthier.
- Drink water: Water won’t stop cavities, but it will help wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth, before it becomes cavity-causing plaque. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water per day.
While cavities impact the vast majority of us, by maintaining good oral health care you’ll significantly reduce bacteria, plaque and, ultimately, cavities. Curb your sweet tooth, see your dentist regularly and be sure to adopt a consistent brush, floss and rinse schedule. Put it all together and you’ll immediately enhance your oral health, stopping problems before they arise.
The links provided in this article are for educational purposes only. No sponsorship or endorsement is implied. Information was used from the American Dental Association.
©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2016