An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s certainly true when it comes to tooth decay. It’s much easier to take measures to prevent cavities from developing rather than treating cavities once they’ve occurred. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent tooth decay, and when you use a few of them, you can optimize your oral health. Here’s how to prevent cavities and keep your teeth free of decay.
Good Oral Hygiene
Being diligent when it comes to your oral hygiene is one of the best things you can do to keep cavities at bay. Most people think they have good oral hygiene, but it’s still worth discussing exactly what this means.
First, you should be brushing your teeth for a full two minutes, morning and night. If you’re not timing your twice-daily toothbrushing sessions, you should be—most people under-estimate what two minutes feels like when they’re brushing. Set a timer on your phone or, even better, buy an electric toothbrush with a built in timer to help you keep track. Remember brushing at night time before going to bed is the most important step to improve your oral hygiene.
When you brush, you should be mindful of brushing the fronts and backs of all of your teeth, and also the chewing surfaces where plaque and food debris can easily collect. An easy way to do this is to divide your teeth into quadrants—top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right—and spend 30 seconds brushing each of them.
After brushing, you should floss at least once a day. When flossing, make sure you work all the way down to the gumline and then up again. It’s common for cavities to form between the teeth where toothbrushes can’t reach, so flossing should never be skipped!
Regular Dental Cleanings
Even with terrific oral hygiene practices, it’s inevitable that plaque will begin to form on your teeth. When this plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into a sticky substance called tartar—and the only way for tartar to be removed is with a professional dental cleaning.
Why does this matter? Tartar harbors the bacteria that causes gum disease and tooth decay. It can seriously compromise your dental health, but regular dental cleanings will keep tartar in check. Once your hygienist removes the tartar from the surfaces of your teeth, they’ll polish your enamel, creating a smooth surface that makes it harder for new plaque and tartar deposits to form.
Also, take advantage of your dental insurance as it covers your dental cleaning twice a year at 100%. Most dental insurance plans cover preventive care such as cleaning and exams at 100%.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is essential for dental health. It strengthens the tooth enamel and prevents cavities from forming. Although the toothpaste you use likely has fluoride in it, as does the water you drink, it’s also important to get regular fluoride treatments from the dentist.
We recommend dental sealants for many of our pediatric patients. This treatment involves painting a safe BPA-free material onto the tooth to seal grooves on the chewing surfaces where plaque collects, forming cavities. Dental sealants are affordable, painless, and effective, making them an excellent solution for preventing pediatric tooth decay.