The best cavity to have is the one that never started in the first place. No one wants the pain, the expense, and the inconvenience of treating a cavity. It was once thought that cavities were inevitable, that some people just had cavity-prone teeth that would get cavities no matter what was done.
Great news! Our understanding of how cavities are formed and how to interrupt that formation process has advanced tremendously. You can actively practice cavity prevention, not just hope that cavities won’t appear, and it’s not hard. It just takes building some good habits.
Plan: 1. Keep the enamel you have strong; 2. Avoid cavity favorable conditions; 3. Visit your dentist for regular check-ups.
1. Keep the enamel you have strong.
Brush your teeth. Every day. Using a fluoride-containing product. And, brush before breakfast so your breakfast doesn’t become a breakfast for the cavity-causing bacteria that have grown in your mouth overnight. After meals, swish with plain water to remove acid without brushing away softened enamel.
It was once thought that fluoride was only helpful for children. The CDC now states, after examining the matter thoroughly, that fluoride is helpful to all age groups since it works best when applied directly to teeth regularly. So, use a fluoride-containing toothpaste or gel. Consider using a product with other tooth-friendly ingredients, like nano hydroxyapatite and xylitol.
Floss. It’s the best way to clean all the tooth surfaces that your toothbrush just can’t reach. And do it every day. Keeping teeth clean is your anti-cavity plan, not trying to catch up by trying to heal surfaces you could have kept healthy to begin with.
Proper brushing and flossing take less than 5 minutes. It’s the easiest way to start your day, and it makes cavities much less likely.
2. Avoid Cavity Favorable Conditions
Acid conditions in your mouth are caused by eating and drinking beverages other than water. Acid conditions are the ones that can soften enamel, and they are the conditions in which cavity-causing bacteria grow. You, however, don’t have to suffer cavities related to your meals.
Don’t snack between meals, letting the acids from regular snacks or (non-water) drinks soften your enamel. If you need to snack, consider chewing xylitol gum to ward off cavity-causing bacteria or using a high pH rinse to improve your mouth’s condition.
Saliva keeps your teeth healthy; it’s the body’s natural protective mechanism for the mouth and teeth. So, keep your saliva levels healthy by avoiding dry mouth, and treating it if it arises. Your healthy teeth will thank you.
3. Visit your dentist for regular check-ups.
Your dentist is your partner is good health, not a school disciplinarian to be avoided. Your dentist doesn’t want to give you bad news. Your dentist wants to help you stay cavity-free, and the best way your dentist can help you is by seeing you regularly to catch and possible issues early. If you see your dentist regularly, visits are nothing to dread. They’re just a part of your (successful) cavity prevention plan.