Most of us know what cavities are – those pesky little holes that form in our teeth and eventually lead to big problems. At the Yuba City Dentistry Group, we know how distressing it can be to find out you have a cavity. But this leads us to two very important questions:
- What causes cavities?
- How can I prevent them?
Cavities form when acid destroys a tooth’s protective outer covering (enamel) and its underlying layer (dentin). That acid comes either directly from certain foods and beverages, or from specific types of bacteria. Before a cavity becomes physically visible, you may detect it by means of the following signs and symptoms:
- Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks,
- Pain while chewing.
If not treated promptly, cavity-causing bacteria progress further into the tooth, leading to more complicated problems and eventually tooth loss. So, how can you prevent cavities from forming in the first place? Here are some helpful tips.
Tips to Prevent Cavities
Brush & Floss Daily
You’ve heard it before: “A good program of brushing and flossing is your best defense against cavities.” That’s because the activity of brushing and flossing removes dental plaque – a sticky film that harbors the harmful bacteria producing tooth destroying acid. Best practice is to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Additionally, be sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. This mineral will harden your teeth and can actually repair tiny cavities that are just beginning to form.
If you find that a busy schedule or other factors make routine brushing and flossing a challenge, carry a portable toothbrush and container of floss with you to help keep you in the routine.
Watch Your Diet
Soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks are your teeth’s worst enemies. This is because they contain the very acids that attack tooth enamel and make your teeth prone to decay. Even many fruit juices are acidic in nature. Try to drink water and avoid these types of drinks as much as possible. And remember, if you do drink acidic beverages, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. You can also rinse thoroughly with plain water. Otherwise, you risk removing some of the enamel that’s been softened by the acid.
Sugary and starchy foods, such as sweets and chips, are also a problem. This is because plaque thrives in the carbohydrate-rich environment created by these foods in your mouth. If you’re craving sweets, healthy snacks (like fruit and many vegetables) are a great substitute.
If you can’t resist that piece of candy or chocolate cake, make sure to brush afterwards to remove as much of the food or sugar from your teeth as possible. If you forget your toothbrush, at least rinse your mouth out with water or mouthrinse.
Another idea: Chew sugar-free gum. This will stimulate your mouth to produce more saliva, which will aid in removing sugar (and acid) from the teeth.
Regular Dentist Visits
When you visit your Yuba City dentist for routine professional cleanings and exams, your dental hygienist cleans areas of your mouth that you simply can’t reach through normal brushing and flossing. We check for early signs of tooth decay and address any problems you’ve been missing. We can also recommend additional treatments to prevent cavities if your situation calls for it, including dental sealants, in-office fluoride treatments, or special mouthrinses.
So when was your last dental appointment? Call us today and let’s make sure your teeth and mouth are in as great a shape possible! The Yuba City Dentistry Group is reached at (530) 671-4784, in our office on 1052 Live Oak Boulevard, or via our website’s handy appointment page.