4 Simple Ways to Help Prevent Tooth Decay

Cavities fall into the same category of unpleasantness as sitting beside a screaming child during a flight or getting a paper cut as you sort through the mail: They’re not fun, but they are a common experience.

In fact, cavities are the second most common health disorder in the U.S., ranked only below the common cold. Cavities form as a result of tooth decay that affects the outer coating of the tooth, its inner dentin layer, or both. The treatment for cavities depends on their severity, and can range from a simple filling to more complex dental treatments such as root canals.

Even though cavities are incredibly common, there are ways to decrease your chances of developing tooth decay. The following four tips will serve as your first line of defense against the development of cavities.

Brush and floss every day.

You already know you should be doing this, but here’s your reminder. At a minimum, you should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day in order to give your chompers the best chance at good health. Follow these tips for proper tooth brushing and effective flossing to ensure your efforts have the most impact.  

Eat healthy.

Not only do the foods you eat have an impact on the way your breath smells, they can also influence your cavity risk. A diet that contains a lot of sugary, sticky, processed, and/or carbohydrate-rich foods (such as candy, soda, or chips) is more likely to lead to tooth decay.

On the other hand, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and drinking unsweetened teas can actually improve your oral health by providing your body with essential nutrients and stimulating saliva flow, which is necessary for removing bacteria and other cavity-inducing gunk from your mouth. If you do need to satisfy a less-healthy craving, rinse your mouth with water not long afterwards to facilitate the removal of sticky substances from your teeth.

Quit smoking.

Not only is smoking cigarettes bad for your respiratory wellbeing, it’s also bad for your dental health. Smoking can increase your risk of a number of oral health issues, including cavities, chronic bad breath, and oral cancer. By quitting smoking, you’ll be doing your teeth (and the rest of your body) good.

Visit your dentist on a regular basis.

Heading to the dentist for professional teeth cleanings can help prevent dental decay by removing plaque buildup. Regular checkups also allow your dentist to catch any signs of decay early so that preventative measures can be taken before the decay escalates.

Most people should plan to head to the dentist every six months, but people with certain issues (including a propensity for lots of plaque and tartar buildup, chronic bad breath, gum disease, heart disease, and diabetes) will probably want to see their dentist more often. And if you notice any concerning signs such as inflamed gums, toothaches, or other issues, it’s a good idea to head to the dentist no matter how recently you were there.

The unfortunate reality is that there is no oral health routine that can 100 percent guarantee you’ll never experience tooth decay. But these strategies will go a long way toward inhibiting the development of cavities and sustaining your dental health over the long haul.