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Preventive measures to any oral health problem begin with good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Floss once or twice a day preferably after dinner. Flossing removes plaque from areas that the toothbrush can’t reach i.e. between your teeth and under the gum line.
Dry mouth (Xerostomia) may be caused due to dehydration, anxiety, mouth breathing, smoking, certain medications, etc. It may also be caused by autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome which damage the salivary glands. Tooth decay is very common in dry mouth. Identifying the underlying reason of your dry mouth can help in treating it thereby preventing further damage to your teeth from cavities.
You can’t brush every time you eat. But you sure can drink water or at least rinse your mouth with water every time you do so. Water neutralises the effects of acidic and sugary foods. Rinsing removes food particles left behind on/ between the teeth.
A healthy balanced diet is a solution to most of our health problems. A diet high in refined carbohydrates like breads, biscuits, etc. puts you at a risk of tooth decay. Avoid sticky foods such as candies, etc. which get stuck in the pits and grooves of your teeth. Sweets and chocolates are not the only ones with sugar. Beware of ‘hidden sugars’ in food which also could cause tooth decay. Increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. They remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth and gums.
What exposes your teeth to abuse is not how much you eat, but how often you eat. Every time you eat, bacteria convert the carbohydrates in the food into acids that can dissolve your tooth enamel. By snacking throughout the day, you make your teeth susceptible to constant bacterial attack. Hence avoid eating high sugar, high acid foods between meals. Diet soda may have no sugar but the acid in it can be dangerous to your tooth enamel. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s best to have sweets at meal times!
Visit your dentist once in six months for regular check-ups. He/she will be able to check for conditions in the mouth that may put you at risk of developing tooth decay. The initial signs of cavity can be reversed if detected early. If advised, get a professional cleaning or scaling done.
Wouldn’t sealing off the grooves and fissures of teeth from acid and plaque protect them from getting cavities? Yes, it would. And dental sealants do just that. Your dentist may apply protective coating called dental sealants to the biting surfaces of the back teeth.
Drinking fluoridated water reduces the incidence of tooth decay. However, in most parts of India, non-fluoridated water is consumed. Hence it is recommended to use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride gel may be applied by your dentist if you are very susceptible to cavities.
Brushing and flossing takes care of all the food debris and plaque in your mouth. But what about the harmful bacteria hiding in inaccessible places? That’s where the mouthwashes play a role. Use antibacterial mouth rinses after brushing to kill the harmful bacteria associated with cavities and reduce plaque in your mouth. If you are more prone to cavities, use a mouth rinse with fluoride.
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking stimulates saliva which washes away food particles and helps to prevent cavities.
Your tooth is one of the hardest parts of your body. But that doesn’t make it resistant to bacterial attack. Cavity causing species of bacteria convert the sugar from the food we eat into acids which demineralise and destruct the enamel of the tooth to create cavities in them. Luckily, preventing tooth cavities is equally easy. Here are ten ways to prevent them: