You don’t need to be a dentist to know that cavities are dangerous to your oral health. We’re taught from an early age to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day to protect against decay. But is brushing enough? As important as it is, the simple act of brushing can’t eliminate all traces of sugar and bacteria in your mouth. Try these simple and creative methods to prevent cavities and make your dentist proud.
Refine Your Brushing Techniques
Brushing and flossing aren’t meant to be mindless activities, they’re important and strategic tools that control the plaque and bacteria in our mouth. Using the right brushing techniques helps you work smarter, not harder, during your daily care routine.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure your time brushing really counts:
- Hold brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums
- Gently brush in small, circular motions
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of every tooth
- Use the top tip of toothbrush to clean the inside of the front teeth
Always Floss to Prevent Cavities
Beyond brushing, make sure you floss! Since brushing can only remove plaque and debris from the visible surfaces of your teeth, flossing is the key to scraping bacteria from in between your teeth.
Plaque loves to accumulate in those dark crevices. Only flossing can reach into those tight spaces to prevent cavities. It’s really not as hard as you think. The process of flossing is simple once you learn and practice:
- Use about one foot of dental floss and wrap all but 2-3 inches around your middle finger
- Use your thumb and forefingers to guide the floss in-between the teeth
- Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline
- Move the floss up and down to clean the side of each tooth
- Use a floss holder or disposable floss pick if needed, especially for children
If You Hate Flossing, Try a Flossing Alternative
If you really don’t like flossing, you’re in good company. Luckily, you have plenty of alternatives that work just as well. Give these other flossing options a try to prevent cavities from forming between your teeth.
Water flossing offers a simple way to floss without thin floss thread. This type of handheld device removes plaque by spraying streams of water between the teeth. The steady pressure of water directed to the space between each tooth effectively targets food debris, sugar, bacteria, and other substances. For best results, choose a water flosser with the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance.
Not a fan of water flossers? Perhaps interdental brushes will do the trick for you instead. These thin, cone-shaped brushes are designed with wire and bristles, making them easy to insert gently between the teeth.
Interdental brushes are available in many different shapes and sizes, so you can select the type that works best with the alignment of your teeth. You shouldn’t have to force interdental brushes between your teeth; they should fit comfortably between each space to remove plaque buildup.
Chew Xylitol Gum to Prevent Cavities
Not all gum is bad for your mouth! Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener with many therapeutic properties. Chewing xylitol gum a few times a day is a great way to safely stimulate saliva production and clear away food debris and plaque. Saliva also helps reduce acidity in your mouth, which is a highly effective way to prevent cavities.
Rinse with Baking Soda and Water
This tip is especially helpful for pregnant women or people who suffer from chronic heartburn. Don’t let all of that acid scorch your mouth and leave your teeth vulnerable to decay. A baking soda and water rinse offers a gentle way to neutralize acids so they can’t eat away at your enamel.
Control Your Diabetes
Yes, your diabetes does have an effect on your oral health. This disease affects your body’s ability to properly use blood sugar for energy. As blood sugar accumulates, it causes acute and chronic health problems.
In addition to common symptoms of diabetes like frequent urination, excessive thirst, and numbness in the hands and feet, diabetes also compromises the health of your teeth and gums. High blood sugar levels weaken the body’s main defense against bacterial infections in the mouth. This leaves you prone to cavities, decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and thrush.
Work with your doctor and dentist to get control of your condition with proper treatment. Otherwise, uncontrolled diabetes will lead to lost teeth, severe gum infection, and bone destruction.
Always Choose Water
Soda is nothing but empty calories, sugar and acid. Every sip causes serious harm to your teeth, and fruit juice isn’t much better. One of the simplest and most powerful changes you can make in your daily routine is to swap soda and juice for water.
Beyond the numerous health benefits of staying hydrated, water helps to wash food debris and bacteria off your teeth after meals and snacks. It also reduces dry mouth, keeps your breath fresh, and eliminates the sugar hiding in the deep, dark crevices of your mouth. All of this adds up to fewer cavities and a happier smile!
Skip the Sugary and Acidic Foods
The instant that food enters your mouth, changes start to occur. If the foods you eat are rich in sugars and carbohydrates, they are immediately converted into acids, and those acids begin attacking the teeth and triggering decay.
By swapping highly processed, sugar-laden foods with fresher, more nutrient-dense options, you can prevent a number of dental problems and even encourage your teeth and gums to remain as healthy as possible.
Try working these mouth-friendly foods into your eating routine to prevent cavities:
- Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, cucumbers, and celery
- Foods rich in vitamin C and D like bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, fish, and eggs
- Foods high in calcium and phosphorous like lead meat, milk, almonds, yogurt, and cheese
Don’t Ditch Your Dentist
Visiting your dentist every six months is one of the most important ways to prevent cavities and protect your oral health. Each appointment gives your dentist the valuable opportunity to evaluate your gums, teeth, tongue, and throat. Most importantly, it gives your San Diego dentist the chance to take note of any changes since your last appointment. Even subtle changes can indicate a potential problem or concern.
Call (619) 220-7475 to schedule your appointment at Cassell Dentistry and benefit from Dr. Cassell’s expertise and superior dental care.