5 Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay
Look in the mirror at your pearly whites. Are they bright, gleaming, and healthy? If so, great job! And we’re sure you want to keep them that way. Tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems are not inevitable. Yes, your natural teeth can remain in great shape for the rest of your life.
The key is practicing good preventive dentistry. Maintain the following habits, and you can stave off the need for expensive and invasive restorative procedures and tooth replacements.
#1: Be a Stickler for Oral Hygiene
Establish a routine, and stick to it. No exceptions. We understand that you are rushed in the morning and tired at night, but taking care of your teeth and gums will pay off in the long run. If you have kids, it’s also important to be an oral hygiene role model and instill in them good habits.
- Brush twice daily for two minutes at a time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Reach all areas of the teeth: front, back, chewing surfaces.
- Replace your toothbrush when the bristles become frayed or every few months.
- Use short strokes and hold the brush at a forty-five-degree angle to the gums.
- Having a tough time getting young kids to brush? Find a two-minute toothbrushing song. Allow your child to “brush” a favorite stuffed animal’s teeth. Or motivate him or her with a sticker chart.
- Floss at least once every day.
#2: Visit Us Every Six Months
We want to see you parked in one of our dental chairs twice each year. You see, even if you take excellent care of your mouth at home, professional cleanings and exams remain vital for healthy teeth and gums.
- One of our hygienists will skillfully clean your teeth. With our special tools, we can remove plaque and tartar you can’t reach with your toothbrush at home. We will also give your chompers a meticulous flossing and polish them with our special toothpaste.
- We will examine your teeth for tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems that you may not have noticed.
- We may take digital X-rays to look for issues brewing under the surface, like abscesses, bone loss, cysts, and decay between teeth.
- We offer additional preventive services to help protect your and your kids’ teeth: athletic mouthguards, dental sealants, and fluoride treatments.
- If you have questions and concerns about teething, pacifier use, nutrition, or other topics, the doctor will be happy to discuss them with you.
#3: Avoid Sweet Drinks
Do you have a soft drink habit? Or a sports drink habit? Or a juice habit? All of these beverages are bad news for your teeth. They are loaded with sugar, so every time you take a sip, you are coating your mouth in the sweet stuff. This causes bacteria to proliferate and generate the acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
And if you are the type who drinks these things throughout the day, your poor teeth never get a break from destructive acid attacks.
And if you think you’re off the hook because you prefer diet soft drinks, think again. While diet drinks do not contain harmful sugar, their high acid content means they too erode tooth enamel.
What you should be drinking every day is lots of good old water. Water keeps you healthy and hydrated, and is a great way to clean out your mouth between meals when you don’t have toothbrush handy. It rinses away bacteria and food particles and helps to neutralize harmful acids.
If you don’t have one already, invest in a reusable bottle that you can fill up in the morning with tap water and carry with you as you go about your day. And say goodbye to the soft drinks, sports drinks, and juices for good.
#4: Eat Meals. Don’t Graze.
Munching throughout the day is not just better for your waistline, it’s better for your pearly whites. When you eat, the food particles left behind trigger the production of acids that go to work wearing down the protective layer of enamel on your teeth.
If you confine your food consumption to regular meals, your teeth will undergo acid attacks after each one.
But if you snack or graze throughout the day, your tooth enamel is under constant barrage from bacterial acids. An yucky film of bacteria may even form over the teeth and stay there all day.
We understand that sometimes you do get hungry between meals. And no, we don’t expect you to starve. But if you do snack, choose something that will help, not harm, your oral health. Avoid pretzels, chips, and other carb-heavy munchies, as these are the foods that bacteria love. Better choices include crunchy fruits and veggies like an apple or carrot sticks (pair with hummus or a yogurt dip), nuts, and cheese.
#5: Don’t Brush Too Hard
We love it when people are passionate and enthusiastic about their oral hygiene. But believe it or not, it is possible to overdo it. When it comes to cleaning your teeth, elbow grease does not do a better job.
Scrubbing your teeth vigorously probably will get rid of bacteria, plaque, and all the nasty stuff. Unfortunately, it will also remove your tooth enamel. And once your enamel is gone, that’s it. It does not grow back. You will be susceptible to pain, sensitivity, tooth decay, and infection, as bacteria may more easily infiltrate your teeth. Hard brushing may also injure your gum tissue, causing them to recede or pull away from your teeth. Eventually, this may lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
So remember: when you brush, be thorough, but use a gentle touch. And always use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Follow these excellent preventive dentistry practices, and you have a great chance of keeping your smile beautiful and healthy for the rest of your life. If you live in or around Longmeadow, MA, call Dores Dental to schedule your next cleaning and exam. You may get in touch with us online or by calling our office at 413-241-3995.