The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least one in four adults between 20 and 64 has at least one cavity. And while cavities are common, leaving them untreated can lead to various issues later, including gum disease, tooth loss, and more. Taking steps to prevent cavities in the first place, however, can help you save your natural teeth and ensure that tooth decay doesn’t create issues that will affect your overall health. Check out these 8 things you can do to prevent cavities.
Wondering how to prevent cavities?
Preventing cavities is essential for maintaining good oral health. Cavities, also known as dental caries, are caused by bacteria in your mouth that produce acid that erodes your tooth enamel. Over time, this can lead to holes or cavities in your teeth that can cause pain, sensitivity, and even tooth loss. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to prevent cavities and protect your teeth and gums.
1. Use mouthwash instead of rinsing with water after brushing.
Mouthwash with fluoride can help strengthen your enamel and help you to avoid cavities. It’s also effective in helping to freshen your breath and remove food particles that brushing and flossing may have missed. While you should drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and rinse away food particles, up your game and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash after brushing.
2. Use a fluoride toothpaste on your floss to help with cavity prevention.
You already know that flossing is essential for removing food particles and plaque from between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. But, something you may have never tried is coating your floss with fluoride toothpaste before you floss. Doing this can help strengthen your tooth enamel and provide extra protection against cavities. After brushing and flossing, don’t forget to rinse with that fluoridated mouthwash.
3. If you’re going to have a sugary drink, have it with a meal or a snack.
Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages not only puts you at significant risk of tooth decay and cavities, but it is also associated with obesity and weight gain, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic liver disease, kidney diseases, and gout. But, if you enjoy soda, energy drinks, or sports drinks, consuming them with a meal or snack can help reduce their harmful effects on your teeth. This is because when you eat a meal or snack, your mouth produces more saliva, which helps neutralize the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth that can cause cavities.
4. Finish off your snacks with a piece of cheese.
Cheese is a tooth-friendly food because it is high in calcium, which can help strengthen your tooth enamel and make it more resistant to decay. It’s also been shown to help neutralize the acid in your mouth that can erode your teeth. Eating cheese after a meal or snack can help protect your teeth and prevent cavities.
5. Seek treatment for mouth breathing or sleep apnea.
Our bodies are designed to breathe through our nose. Breathing through your nose can offer several health benefits, such as filtering out dust and allergens, enhancing oxygen uptake, and humidifying air. Conversely, breathing through your mouth can lead to dry mouth, which may result in bad breath and gum inflammation, raising your chances of oral health problems. Mouth breathing, especially during sleep, can lead to dry mouth, increasing your risk of developing cavities.
And sleep apnea can cause dry mouth, too. Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause people to sleep with their mouths open, leading to dry mouth. And, as we said, dry mouth can create a breeding ground for bacteria, increasing the risk of plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease.
6. Address any underlying acid reflux issues.
Acid reflux is typically caused by consuming acidic or high-fat foods, such as tomatoes, onions, citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, cheese, peppermint, and large or spicy meals. Certain medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, some sedatives, and blood pressure drugs, may also contribute to acid reflux. And unfortunately, acid reflux can cause acid from your stomach to flow back into your mouth, eroding your tooth enamel and increasing your risk of cavities. If you have acid reflux, you must seek treatment to help protect your teeth and gums.
7. Get used to drinking water—lots of water.
Drinking water helps flush away food particles and bacteria in your mouth that can lead to cavities. It’s also essential for maintaining good overall health. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and ideally, 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men per day whenever possible, to help keep your mouth and body hydrated.
8. Floss before you brush.
Though we typically hear that we should floss after we brush our teeth, flossing first can help make it a more consistent habit. It’s essential to floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. And the best time to floss is after your last meal and before you go to bed, ensuring you go to sleep with a clean mouth. Flossing for 90 seconds before you brush can prevent cavities and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Want to understand what causes cavities? Request an appointment with your family dentist in Boise, ID, to learn more.
The tips and tricks we’ve shared here are tried-and-true ways to help prevent cavities. But, another essential thing to do is make sure you see your dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation. You and your dentist can pull out all the stops to halt cavities. Request an appointment today.