Keeping cavities away is as easy as remembering the ABCs of preventative dentistry! Start the school year off with a smile by getting back to the basics of oral health.
- A is for Anti-Cavity Diet
- B is for Brushing (and flossing!)
- C is for Check-ups.
A is for Anti-Cavity Diet
Parents, have you ever heard it said that keeping a house full of kids clean is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos? That’s because we need to give our mouth a fighting chance at staying healthy by making sure each meal and snack contains oral health-boosting nutrients instead of an excess of sugar. Otherwise, it’s like trying to vacuum while your toddler does glitter art!
Focusing on healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy will provide your mouth the vitamins and minerals it needs to do its job of washing away bacteria and food debris after eating in order to protect the enamel on your teeth and keep your gums in tip top shape.
Sugars and starches, on the other hand, stick to the teeth, allowing bacteria to eat away at the protective outer layer of enamel. This hole in the tooth created by the bacteria is called a cavity. And the bigger and deeper the hole, the more extensive is the treatment needed to fix it. Constant snacking has a similar effect to eating sweets, as having food in the mouth often also creates an environment where bacteria can thrive.
For further reading: How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Another substance that weakens enamel is acid. Found in citrus and beverages like alcohol, soda, sports drinks, and even sparkling water, acid wears down the enamel of teeth. Especially bad for teeth are those drinks that are both sweet and acidic, like soda. The best beverage for teeth is plain old water, which will wash away food debris and cavity-causing bacteria. Water is an especially great choice for between meals, giving your mouth a chance to recover from mealtime.
B is for Brushing (and Flossing!)
So basic, but it can’t be skipped! There is simply no getting around the fact that your daily routine needs to accommodate the very basics of dental hygiene: brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day. All told, your dental routine will take up six minutes of your day, which will pay off in dividends. Proper brushing–short, swift, and gentle strokes on all surfaces of the teeth–as well as flossing will remove the lion’s share of bacteria and plaque from your teeth, preventing the formation of cavities.
Your dentist might also recommend a mouthwash to incorporate into your routine. Different mouthwashes are designed to tackle different problems. Whether it’s combatting dry mouth, halitosis, cavities, or gingivitis, there is a mouthwash just for you. If you’re specifically looking for a mouthwash to protect against cavities, look for one with fluoride in it. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens and even repairs early-stage tooth decay.
C is for Check-ups
Last but not least, seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up is absolutely essential for keeping cavities away. That’s because no matter how thoroughly we brush and floss, there are some spots we’re going to miss. And when plaque’s been hanging around on teeth for a while, it eventually turns into tartar, which cannot be removed at home but only by a dental professional. Not only is tartar unsightly, but it also attracts more plaque because of its sticky surface, leading to more decay.
Family Dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin
Need to schedule your family’s six-month check-ups? Contact us today! With convenient locations on the west and east side, Affiliated Dentists provides family dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.
ABC’s of Preventative Dentistry brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson