Preventing Cavities at Home
As one of the most common health aliments, cavities are a dental issue that everyone should be concerned with. While treatments are available, should they develop, it's far better to prevent cavities in the first place. Professional cleanings are an important part of this, but there are a number of things that can be done at home to prevent cavities, as well.
How Cavities Form
To understand what can be done to prevent cavities, it may be helpful to know a bit more about how they form in the first place.
Whenever food is consumed, the bacteria that live in our mouths convert some of the sugars and carbohydrates from the food into acids. These acids remove calcium and minerals from the tooth enamel.
While this demineralization results in weakened enamel, the damage done at this stage isn't necessarily permanent. Instead, our teeth can be remineralized later, through the calcium and phosphate in our saliva, along with the fluoride found in toothpaste, tap water and some mouthwashes.
This process of demineralization and remineralization continues over and over during the course of a day; breaking the tooth enamel down and building it back up again. Cavities don't begin to form until the balance shifts in the wrong direction, and more is taken away from the enamel than is replenished.
Cavities will first appear as white spots on the tooth. This is an early sign of tooth decay, but, at this point, it can still be reversed. If the process is allowed to continue, however, the enamel will eventually be weakened or destroyed, resulting in a cavity—permanent damage which will require a filling to repair.
Preventing Cavities From Forming
Since cavities are created when demineralization is occurring more than remineralization, limiting the number of times your teeth are exposed to acid is one way to reduce your chances of getting a cavity. This means avoiding frequent snacking, or sugary drinks between meals. Any time you have food in your mouth, bacteria will have an opportunity to create acid again, putting your teeth under attack.
The foods you choose to eat can make a difference, too. Either avoid eating anything that might get stuck in the grooves of your teeth for long periods (such as potato chips and candy), or be sure to brush after eating them. Food trapped in your teeth will result in longer exposure to acid.
As mentioned before, fluoride is a powerful tool for cavity prevention. Not only can fluoride help replenish the minerals that have been lost, it can stop the ability of bacteria to produce acid. For this reason, you should brush after eating, being sure to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Drinking tap water is another way to additional fluoride, and some mouth washes contain it as well.
As always, your dental hygiene routine should include brushing twice a day, along with flossing once a day, in order to keep your teeth and gums free of acid-producing bacteria.
Robert A. Morabito, DDS wants to help patients achieve attractive, healthy smiles with the durability and resilience to match.
Daily habits like brushing and flossing, supported by a balanced diet full of essential nutrients, are highly effective means to prevent the plaque accumulation that causes gum disease and dental decay.
How To Properly Brush Your Teeth
Our practice recommends patients brush their teeth at least twice daily, ideally, brushing after every meal, including after snacks. This helps dislodge food particles that can contribute to tooth decay or plaque build-up and preserves your long-term dental health.
The following steps can help you get the most out of your daily brushing:
- With the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, use a small, circular motion to gently brush your teeth. Make sure you always feel the brush’s bristles on your gums.
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria, freshening your breath.
Dr. Morabito works with patients to determine their best brushing options, whether a traditional, ADA-approved soft bristle brush or a power, yet simple-to-use electric toothbrush.
The Correct Flossing Technique
Daily flossing keeps the spaces between teeth and at the gum line noticeably cleaner and healthier. These hard-to-reach areas are often missed by brushing alone, opening the door for periodontal disease to develop. Adding flossing to your hygienic routine allows you to comprehensively care for your smile.
Consider the following to attain optimal results from your flossing routine
- Wrap 12-16 inches of dental floss around your middle fingers, leaving about two inches of floss between the hands.
- Gently guide the floss with your thumbs and forefingers between the teeth.
- Curve the floss around each tooth, making a “C” shape. Move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Important: Take care not to be too rough as you do this.
Remember To Rinse Your Mouth Out Afterwards
Bad breath, tooth decay, and plaque development can all result from a dry mouth. This is why it is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing. Even if you are unable to brush after a meal, rinsing can loosen some lingering food particles as well as maintain a hydrated oral environment.
Not all over-the-counter rinses are appropriate for all patients. Consult with Dr. Morabito to see if the rinsing product you’re using is right for you. We can also recommend other solutions for efficient, productive home care, including interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride or medicated rinses, and more.
Call Today And Schedule Your Next Cleaning
To find out more about how proper home care can help you attain a vibrant, long-lasting smile, schedule a consultation with Robert A. Morabito, DDS today!
Contact our Falls Church dental office today to schedule an appointment.