Tooth decay is perhaps the most common oral problem that kids and adults, both young and old, have to contend with. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 adults older than 20 suffer from some degree of tooth-root decay. Kids aged 6 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19 are also very much at risk of suffering from cavities during childhood and adolescence. Indeed, it only takes a few days of negligent oral care for nasty cavities to strike.
Where Does Tooth Decay Come From?
Plaque—a sticky, colorless film of bacteria—forms over your teeth when you eat or drink anything full of sugar and starch. When your teeth aren’t cleaned properly, bacteria from plaque breaks down tooth enamel, dentin, and eventually the inner pulp to cause nasty cavities.
Although many think daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent painful cavities, there are many other simple ways you can keep your teeth safe. Here are some effective tips for preventing nasty tooth decay at home.
1. Brush with Fluoride
Harmful cavity-causing bacteria mainly comes from plaque and food residue left on the teeth and gums. The best way to keep these harmful microorganisms at bay is by brushing properly at least twice a day. A single round of proper brushing eliminates bacteria-filled food debris, as well as sticky plaque from your teeth. That way, your teeth and gums remain safe from the harmful bacteria responsible for painful cavities and enamel destruction.
Fluoride is an essential weapon to wield in the war against cavities. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste strengthens weakened tooth enamel, builds effective protection against tooth decay, and significantly lowers your risk of suffering painful oral problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people increase their protection against cavities through community water fluoridation (CWF). By adding small amounts of fluoride to their public drinking water, communities can reduce tooth decay by about 25%. Drinking water with fluoride is perfectly safe and effective according to the CDC, so you don’t have to worry about any adverse health effects.
2. Rinse with Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Besides brushing and flossing, rinsing twice a day with an alcohol-free mouthwash is a great way to eliminate food debris, plaque, and cavity-causing bacteria from your teeth and gums. Mouthwash formulated with fluoride is another great option since this can strengthen your teeth against tooth decay and painful cavities.
Although many think mouthwash with alcohol is stronger and more effective, it can also be quite risky to use. Abrasive products like these can erode tooth enamel and eliminate good bacteria (good as in they eliminate bad mouth bacteria) with prolonged use. Mouthwash with alcohol may also aggravate certain conditions, such as dry mouth and oral irritation.
Alcohol-free mouthwash is a better option for most people since it isn’t as abrasive or risky to use. It’s far less likely to cause a sudden spread of bad bacteria in the mouth or cause any irritation. Using it twice a day is sure to reduce your chances of suffering painful cavities and other oral problems in the future.
3. Limit Your Sugar Intake
Harmful mouth bacteria feeds mainly on the sugar and starches found in our favorite snacks and desserts. The more sugar you introduce to your teeth and gums, the easier it becomes for painful cavities to form.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of tooth decay is to opt for a healthy, sugar and starch-free diet. Going sugar-free ensures that your tooth enamel stay in strong shape, and that neither your teeth nor your gums succumb to acid-emitting bacteria. Healthy eating also comes with tons of benefits for your overall health, such as healthier skin and lower cholesterol.
Cutting sugar from your diet isn’t always easy. If you just can’t resist the sweet stuff, there are some protective measures you can take. For instance, drink coffee or juice with a straw. This ensures that your teeth aren’t directly exposed to sugar. You can also drink sips of water to rinse out sugar and starch from your mouth.
4. Avoid Smoking and Vaping
Besides sugary snacks, cigarettes (both traditional and electronic) are one of the main culprits for tooth decay. Ingredients found in cigarettes like tobacco and Propylene glycol (PG) cause “dry mouth”, a condition where you can’t produce as much saliva as needed, thus lowering your protection against tooth decay, bacteria, and plaque. Furthermore, prolonged smoking can also erode precious tooth enamel and increase your chances of suffering painful oral problems.
There’s really no way to make smoking less dangerous for your health. In the end, it’s much better to quit entirely. You can curb this harmful habit by reaching out to local support groups, your doctor, or your dentist. Quitting smoking may be a hard decision to make, but it’s more than worth it.
5. See A Dentist (At Home)
Regular dental check-ups are a crucial part of cavity prevention. Your dentist will need to inspect your teeth for signs of early tooth decay and recommend proper treatments. Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised dental workers to delay non-essential dental care in order to lessen any risk of infection during the COVID-19 Pandemic, you can still have your teeth examined properly at home using teledentistry services.
Teledentistry services aim to provide patients with crucial oral health care from the safety of their own home. Dentists can check on your teeth and prescribe treatments using high-quality images of your teeth or by combing through previous oral health records. You can also communicate with dentists online using video chatting software instead of driving to an office.
On the other hand, if you feel like you might be suffering from a serious oral health emergency, it’s vital to see your dentist in person as soon as possible.
6. Floss Before Bed
Plaque forms on all sides of our teeth, including the ones where our toothbrush can’t reach. Food debris and sugar from beverages can also stick to hard-to-reach areas. Flossing plays a huge role in effective cavity prevention since it removes bacteria from between teeth and keeps our gums in healthy shape. This lowers your risk of not just tooth decay, but also early tooth loss and periodontal disease.
If you’re having trouble using traditional dental floss, there are plenty of alternatives you can use for your daily oral hygiene routine. Interdental brushes are a popular tool for gum cleaning since they’re easy to use and designed in many different sizes. Simply choose the size that’s best for your teeth, then move the brush back and forth to clean your gums. Other popular gum cleaning tools that you can use include dental floss picks—a small toothpick with dental floss on one end, and water flossers—a handheld device that removes plaque and bacteria using strong water pressure.
Another great oral hygiene tool to have at home is an electric dental scaler. The Meeteasy Electric Dental Calculus and Plaque Remover eliminates food debris, plaque, and bacteria from all corners of your teeth and gums in just minutes. Order yours from our online store now!