Currently, over 2.5 billion people or over 36% of the world’s population suffer from some sort of tooth decay in their permanent teeth. All adults will have dental cavities at some point in their life. Dental cavities are more common in the developed world and less common in developing countries simply because sugar consumption is higher in developed countries. Dental cavities are very common, but what do we know about preventing them? Here is a breakdown of the 8 ways to prevent tooth decay.
Dental cavities represent the breakdown of teeth caused by the activities of bacteria. The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, due to a moist, warm environment with plenty of food available. Dental cavities can take on different colours, ranging from black to yellow. For most people, cavities cause difficulty with eating and pain but in some cases tooth decay can lead to infection, gum inflammation and ultimately tooth loss. One of the simplest ways to treat tooth decay is by getting a tooth filling. The filling will protect the tooth from further decay and strengthen it in order to withstand any pressure present during chewing. If dental cavities are not treated soon, the tooth may be lost and a dental implant may be necessary.
To prevent Tooth Decay:
1. Brush, brush, brush
As the sub-title states, you should brush your teeth at least 3 times a day. If that’s not possible due to various reasons, twice a day should be fine – right before going to bed and at least an hour after your meals. Brushing your teeth right after finishing a meal can actually damage your teeth. It takes about an hour for your saliva to neutralise any acid from wine, fruit or fizzy drinks.
Other tips include:
- Brush your tongue as well – it helps by removing any bacteria from your tongue and freshens your breath in the same time
- Don’t rinse after brushing – rinsing actually washes away the minerals from tooth paste
- Don’t eat or drink immediately after brushing – eating or drinking after brushing your teeth can also remove the minerals from your teeth. You should wait at least 30 minutes or an hour before your next meal.
- Change your tooth brush every 2 months
- Manual toothbrushes are as good as electric ones
Flossing can remove food particles that are stuck between the teeth. Stuck food particles are a breeding ground for bacteria so removing them is well worth it. Flossing also removes plaque from between the teeth – these areas are not always accessible for tooth brushes. Interdental brushes are also quite popular, especially for people with very close teeth.
Alcohol-free mouthwash is a great choice, especially if it contains fluoride. Fluoride and minerals help the teeth strengthen their enamel. Keep in mind that you should not use mouthwash immediately after brushing and you should avoid any eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after using it.
4. Eat some cheese
Casein is a protein often found in cheese – this protein can protect the teeth from decay by increasing the level of calcium in your saliva, thus re-mineralizing teeth. Have a bit of cheese after finishing your meal – your teeth will be healthier in the long run.
5. Chew more gum
Chewing sugar-free gum right after a meal is not a marketing gimmick, it can really help prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum produces more saliva, so the acid gets neutralized faster. It’s important to chew sugar-free gum because bacteria use sugar to grow and wreak havoc on your teeth’s enamel. Chewing gum three or four times a day can keep your teeth strong and healthy.
6. Candy? Yes!
Sugar-free candy can also prevent tooth decay – it works the same as sugar-free chewing gum. Sugar-free candy doesn’t damage the teeth’s enamel and it doesn’t provide bacteria with any “fuel” to grow, so the next time you get a sweet tooth, go for a sugar substitute based candy.
7. Dental sealants
Dental sealants are a great way to prevent tooth decay. Most dentistry clinics offer this affordable type of treatment. The way it works is simple: the dental sealant is a protective coating that’s applied on the surface of the back teeth. Back teeth often have grooves and pits, making them very hard to clean. Bacteria and even food particles can get stuck in these grooves, eventually leading to a dental cavity. The grooves are sealed off with resin material, preventing the access of any bacteria.
8. Go nuts!
Nuts and seeds are great sources of calcium, among other nutrients. The calcium in nuts can contribute to re-mineralization of the teeth and given their texture, they are also a great way to remove plaque from the teeth as well. Other plaque-removing foods include apples, carrots and pineapple. Sesame seeds are especially effective at removing plaque build-up and re-mineralization.