Preventing Cavities

Have you had a cavity recently? If the answer is yes, you are more likely to get another. Read on to learn how you can reduce your risk.

What causes cavities?

Cavities are formed by acid on your teeth. When you eat sugary or starchy foods, bacteria collects on your teeth. The bacteria produce an acid that damages your tooth enamel, which is the hard outside surface of your teeth. Over time, the acid forms a cavity.

How can I prevent cavities?

The good news is that cavities can be prevented. Following these suggestions will reduce your risk:

Make a habit of brushing your teeth correctly.

Brush with fluoride toothpaste for a minimum of two minutes, twice a day. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and brush each tooth in a small, circular motion. Always brush your teeth after eating sugary or starchy foods. Replace your toothbrush every two months or when the bristles begin to wear down.

Remember to floss daily.

Flossing removes the food that gets trapped between your teeth. Flossing helps your gums stay
healthy by reducing plaque build-up.

Eat a healthy diet.

Drink plenty of water, especially fluoridated water. Bottled water usually does not contain fluoride so this is not the best option. Foods that contain fluoride are good for you. These include fish, tea, grape juice, and green leafy vegetables. Eat fruits—they contain a natural sweetener called Xylitol that is proven to help fight cavities. Chewing Xylitol gum helps reduce bacteria in the mouth.

Visit your dentist regularly.

You should visit your dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning. That way, if any cavities do begin to form, you’ll catch them early.

Ask your dentist about fluoride and sealants.

Fluoride makes tooth enamel strong and resistant to decay. It can also help to reverse the early stages of decay. Your dentist can treat your teeth with fluoride varnish or prescribe fluoride supplements. Children can benefit from having sealants placed on their teeth. A dental sealant is a plastic material that can be quickly and easily placed onto the chewing surfaces of molar teeth.