Contrary to popular belief, sugar does not cause cavities. Oral bacteria that feed on food particles in your mouth do. Your mouth is teeming with bacteria, most of which are harmless. Some bacteria in your mouth secret acid that erodes the enamel of your teeth, however, putting you at risk of developing tooth decay. Enamel is the hard, outer layer of a tooth that protects the soft, inner layer from bacterial infection. Once enamel weakens, your teeth may develop cavities.
Tips on Cavity Prevention
There are ways to prevent cavities. The following is a list of best practices for maintaining your oral health and protecting your teeth from decay.
- The most important thing you can do to keep your mouth cavity-free is to brush twice daily, floss once a day, and maintain six-month dental cleanings. Brushing and flossing removes the plaque that forms on your teeth as soon as 20 minutes after eating. Harmful, cavity-causing bacteria live in plaque. Once plaque hardens, it becomes tartar, which only your Polk City dentist can remove. Tartar promotes plaque build-up, and so not brushing, flossing, and having your teeth cleaned regularly will only increase your chances of developing cavities.
- The use of fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouthwashe can greatly improve the health of your enamel and help prevent cavities. Fluoride helps re-mineralize enamel, which makes your teeth stronger and more resistant to acid.
- Stay away from highly acidic drinks. The acid in sports and energy drinks, as well as most sodas, directly contributes to the erosion of enamel. If you do choose to imbibe in one of these drinks, do not brush your teeth until at least two hours after consumption. Brushing before then will only spread the acid around the surface of your teeth and make the problem worse. Instead, rinse your mouth with water to wash the acid away.
- Chew sugarless gum on a regular basis. The act of chewing promotes the production of saliva. Saliva washes food particles away from teeth and neutralizes acid in your mouth.