Tooth decay and cavities are among the world’s most common health problems. Tooth decay damages the tooth structure and can affect both the enamel (the outer coating) and the inner layers of the tooth. It causes pain, bad breath, and can lead to cavities and even tooth loss. While it usually affects children and young adults, it can actually happen at any age.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay happens when foods containing sugars and starches, such as bread, cereals, soda, cakes or candy are left on the teeth, due to improper cleaning. Bacteria found in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food leftovers, and saliva combine to form plaque, a clear sticky film that coats your teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the outer surface or enamel of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities. If left untreated, these cavities get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth, which can lead to intense toothaches, infection and tooth loss.
The good news is you can prevent tooth decay and cavities with these simple, easy, and affordable steps:
Brush twice a day
Good oral hygiene begins with this simple habit. Brush your teeth at least two times a day, when you wake up and before going to bed. If possible, brush after every meal. Brushing reduces plaque build-up and removes cavity-causing foods from your teeth. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride helps strengthen your tooth enamel to combat tooth decay. Take your time brushing, moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to remove plaque.
Flossing is as important as brushing. It is a great way to remove the leftovers of foods that get stuck in between your teeth and where your toothbrush cannot reach. It also helps remove plaque that forms between teeth. Flossing once a day is usually sufficient, as long as its done at night.
Clean your tongue
Don’t ignore your tongue. Bacteria and plaque can also build up on your tongue. This not only causes bad mouth odor, but it can also lead to other oral health problems. Gently clean your tongue using your toothbrush or a tongue scraper.
Use a mouthwash
Consider using a mouthwash for an added boost to your oral hygiene routine. A mouthwash helps reduce the amount of acid in the mouth, cleans hard-to-brush areas, and remineralizes the teeth. It is recommended to rinse with a fluoride-containing mouthwash or an anti-bacterial mouthwash. In older people, for whom brushing, or flossing may be difficult, a mouthwash is particularly helpful.
Avoid sugary foods
Sugary, starchy, and sticky foods are among the leading causes of cavities. Sugar reacts with the bacteria in your saliva to form an acid that destroys your tooth enamel and leads to cavities. Avoid sweets, candies, soft drinks, and anything else that contains processed sugars. Also, avoid foods that tend to get stuck in your teeth and promote tooth decay, such as chips, cookies etc. Instead, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, as they help increase saliva flow and remineralize tooth enamel.
Water is the best drink for your overall health, including oral health. If you are not able to brush your teeth immediately after a meal or a sugary snack, drink some water. This helps wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages. Water also helps improve your breath, removes any bad taste you might have in your mouth, and helps prevent cavities.
Visit your dentist regularly
Your daily habits are vital to your overall oral health. Still, you should visit your dentist regularly to avoid preventable dental problems. A dentist has the skill to see symptoms or signs of trouble that you cannot. Regular oral exams can spot problems early on, and teeth cleanings and other professional treatments can help prevent dental decay.
Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.