Tooth decay and cavities are common, but that doesn’t mean they are unavoidable. In today’s blog, your Richfield, MN, dentist will give you some tips and tricks to help protect your smile against cavities and the bacteria that cause tooth decay, so that you don’t end up needing a filling.
How Are Cavities Formed?
Cavities occur when your tooth decays. This process starts when the bacteria that live in the plaque on your teeth break down sugars from your food and drinks and turn the sugars into acid that attack your tooth’s enamel. Since plaque is sticky, the acid can stay stuck to your teeth, breaking down the hard enamel and forming cavities. Decay is more common in children since adults typically have better oral hygiene habits, but, as as we age, receding gums and increased instances of gum disease can open our tooth roots to decay and cavities as well.
How to Fight Tooth Decay
Since decay can affect smiles of all ages, tooth decay is not just a concern for children. The following are tips that can help ensure a healthy smile at any age:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride is an essential part of your dental care routine, as it can slow the breakdown of your enamel and help build it back up again.
- Floss at least once a day to clean between your teeth where your toothbrush bristles can’t reach.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals. The bacteria in plaque feed on sugar, so keeping an eye on your sugar intake is highly important.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating sugary foods or drinking sugary drinks, then brush your teeth about 30 minutes later to reduce the amount of time the sugar spends on your teeth.
- Talk to your dentist about sealants, which can be painted onto the biting surfaces of your back teeth to prevent food from getting stuck and causing decay.
- Schedule and attend at least two dentist appointments each year for a routine cleaning and exam.
Why Are Exams Important?
Attending regular dentist visits can be the difference between having a healthy smile and needing a tooth extracted. While you may practice good oral hygiene habits at home and follow all of the tips listed above, there is always a chance that you could miss something. At each six month dental exam, after your cleaning, Dr. Keller will thoroughly examine your teeth to make sure that there are no points of concern. He will be able to catch the first signs of decay before they move to signs that you might notice, like discoloration or a toothache. Catching decay or any other issue quickly means it is easier to address, and from there you and Dr. Keller can formulate a plan to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
Ready to Protect Your Smile?
Eating healthy foods and practicing good oral hygiene habits are important steps to keep tooth decay at bay. However, these things alone aren’t always enough to prevent decay, so seeing your dentist regularly is imperative to maintaining your oral health. If you are due for a checkup, schedule a consultation with Dr. Keller by calling Cedar West Family Dentistry in Richfield, MN, today at (612) 861-7188.