Did you know that over 90% of adults have had at least one cavity? Despite fluoride being added to the water decades ago, we are still seeing much decay among children and adults in America.
Yet much can be done to reduce your and your children’s risk of tooth decay. Keep reading to find out how!
While systemic fluoride has been in some water systems for almost 70 years, we are still seeing benefits to adding a daily topical fluoride. This could be through fluoridated toothpaste or fluoride-containing mouthrinses. Fluoride can help to strengthen enamel especially in areas of demineralization or beginning decay.
Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride varnish treatment that can be applied in the dental office. This is a paintable application of fluoride that can be applied after your dental cleaning.
Flossing is most helpful for removing the bacteria that is in between your teeth and not reachable by toothbrushing. Proper form for flossing is essential for effectiveness and to prevent damage to your gum tissue. Follow these easy steps for correct flossing:
- Using floss that is at least 12” long, wrap ends around your fingers
- Pulling the floss tight, insert it between two teeth
- Wrap floss around the side of one tooth. Floss should form a “c” shape
- Gently glide the floss up and down, sliding into pocket space between gum tissue and your tooth
- Gently wrap floss around the tooth adjacent and repeat.
Sealants Save The Day
Sealants are a protective coating that can be placed in the deep grooves of permanent teeth. Sealants are recommended for children around the ages of 6 and 12 years old or when their adult molars erupt.
Deep grooves can harbor bacteria and food that can lead to decay. Sealants fill in these deep grooves so that bacteria and food can’t get in them, thus reducing the risk of tooth decay to these teeth. We recommend having sealants done within the first year of that tooth erupting.
Incorporating Xylitol Into Your Day
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is added to some decay products and dental candy. Xylitol originates from birch bark, and studies have shown its ability to reduce cavities when used or consumed frequently.
We recommend getting 3 exposures per day. This could be through xylitol toothpaste, gum, mouthwash, or candies. Consistency is important for its effectiveness.
Don’t Ignore Your Diet
What you eat is very important in reducing your risk of cavities. We know that there are some lucky ones that seem to drink pop and eat sugar all day long and yet have perfect teeth. They are the exceptions because what you eat affects your dental health for most people.
Choosing a well-balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts, healthy fats, and carbohydrates is a good start. Reducing your exposure to sugar and processed foods also helps.
Another thing to be mindful of is not just what you eat, but how often you eat. Every time you expose your teeth to food or drinks (other than water), it takes 20-40 minutes to neutralize your mouth. This means that your teeth are in an acidic or cavity-producing state during that time.
This is why it is important not to snack or sip all day long but rather to enjoy food or drink for a shorter period and then wash off the sugar or bacteria afterward.
Your dental hygienist can help remove the bacteria and tartar buildup that seems to build up despite even the best toothbrushes and flossers. Twice a year is usually enough to keep your mouth healthy and balanced.
Routine Exams and X-rays
Just because your mouth feels fine doesn’t always mean that it is. Routine exams and x-rays help to catch areas of decay at their earliest. We don’t recommend putting off your dental exams or x-rays, even if your mouth is feeling well.
Are you due for a check-up? Give our office a call today!
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