Cavities are no fun! They can be big, small, sensitive, painful or even, in the early-stages, unnoticeable by the untrained person. But all cavities (big and small) are caused by bacteria. Bacteria causes all sorts of problems to your gums, teeth, and overall health. So it doesn’t require a rocket scientist IQ to understand that there are some major benefits to keeping your mouth healthy and cavity-free.
Which is why we’re glad that you’re here — being proactive with your health instead of reactive is giving you major brownie points.
Before we dive into five easy ways to keep your mouth healthy and cavity-free, let’s first make sure that we’re all on the same page about what that bacteria does so that we can all agree on what to do about it.
What Causes Cavities?
Ok, so we already told you the answer to this, but what causes cavities? It’s bacteria! Bacteria (aka biofilm) feed on sugars and starches, multiply, and essentially poo an acidic substance that eats away at the structures in your mouth (Yucky. Yes, we know!).
When the bacteria start to multiply you’ll first see it as dental plaque (aka a lot of bacteria and their poo). In case you don’t know what dental plaque is, it’s that sticky, white or yellow film that builds up on your teeth and gumline, around dental fillings, between teeth and in the cracks and grooves of your rear molars.
When you leave the bacteria to its own devices (continuing to multiplying and poo everywhere), that plaque then hardens and turns into what’s called tartar.
Your poor body tries to fight the good fight, but it’s fighting on too many fronts — bacteria infecting the gums and headed for the bloodstream and bacteria destroying the protective structures of your teeth which keeps the sensitive nerves safe.
So where does the cavity part come in? It’s when bacteria has successfully attacked and broken down vital tooth structure. Once that breach to your tooth enamel happens you’ve officially got yourself a cavity.
The human body is a pretty incredible thing, and it often gives us signals when something isn’t right. But in the case of a cavity, once you start receiving body signals (aka sensitivity and pain), things have gotten a lot worse than they should!
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably on the edge of your seat ready to take action against those bacteria jerks. So let’s do it!
5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy and Cavity-Free
Being aware of what’s going on inside your mouth is a great first step. The process of the damage that the bacteria is causing to your tooth structure is called demineralization. What we know about that is that it takes about 48 hours for a breach to happen — and maybe quicker than that, if you have worn-down enamel from teeth grinding, or never use fluoride protection.
#1: Establish Good Bacteria-Fighting Habits
Your best line of defense is your daily oral hygiene routine. Yes, that means daily brushing and flossing! There is actually a right way to do it too, and 45 seconds is not the right way (yea, we know about that). It’s super important to brush for 2 minutes. This ensures thoroughness and it helps to have a tooth road map that you can follow.
Think about all the surfaces of your teeth. You have the cheek-side surface (the dental lingo is “buccal”). Then you have the biting surface (aka “occlusal”), and then the tongue-side (known to dental pro’s as “lingual”). And don’t forget the back side of your back teeth!
When you think about cleaning each tooth surface it helps you do a better job.
As far as flossing goes you need a similar approach. It needs to be done daily, to help get where the toothbrush can’t (remember, we don’t want to leave those bacteria dudes undisturbed). And in-between each tooth there are two gum pockets you want to get to — the front side of one tooth and the back side of the tooth right in front of it.
Make sure that you are changing your toothbrush every three months or sooner if you’re sick.
Cleaning your teeth every day keeps plaque down and protects those pearly whites! It’s totally possible to keep your natural teeth for the duration of your life.
#2: Watch What You Eat & Drink
Being super attentive to what you eat can definitely result in a nice looking physique but it also makes a difference to your teeth! In our post, “How to Prevent, & Even Reverse Tooth Decay” we talk about what foods to avoid as well as the ones that actually help re-build tooth structure!
Something that might surprise you, but can actually help your teeth is to ditch bottled water and drink more tap water! Most public water has fluoride in it, and fluoride essentially plugs the microscopic holes in your teeth, reinforcing the tooth’s strength. So pass on the soda and sugary juices and drink more tap water. (Pro tip: if you do drink sugary, acidic beverages, use a straw to protect your chompers. And brush right after.)
The other thing that might seem like a strange suggestion is to eat more cheese! Scientific research found that consuming more cheese might help lessen cavities. The study was published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry showing that calcium levels in the mouth increased after eating cheese. Calcium is one part of what helps strengthen teeth, so if your saliva has higher calcium levels it can help to remineralize teeth and prevent cavities from occurring.
If cheese isn’t your thing (or rather, your digestive system’s thing, right?), try eating:
- Sunflower seeds
- Black-eyed peas
#3: See The Dentist Regularly
While fillings, crowns, bridges, dental implants and dentures can restore damaged or lost teeth, the best teeth are your own! This is why our Exceptional Dentistry team works so hard to help you prevent cavities and to strengthen your teeth with fluoride!
Coming in for routine professional dental cleanings allows us to remove hardened plaque or tartar that no at-home tools can do. Additionally, we have the technology to catch things early on before they progress into much bigger, more costly problems.
At your bi-annual cleanings, Dr. James Powell uses digital X-rays and intraoral cameras (including SOPROLIFE) to take a closer look at the inside of your mouth, seeing things the naked eye can’t. The SOPROLIFE camera (a small, pen-like tool) lets Dr. Powell (and you!) see tooth decay and any demineralized areas so they can be treated before they destroy precious tooth surfaces. When we know what’s lurking, we can target those weakened areas with the right treatment to keep them from developing into full-blown cavities.
Digital dental X-rays and intraoral cameras allow us to make your visits quicker, more comfortable, interactive, and safer. Digital X-rays expose you to 98% less radiation than traditional X-rays while getting highly detailed images of your mouth. These special tools allow us to accurately diagnose abnormalities (like cavities). And they help us create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.
#4: Upgrade from Caveman
Still using a manual toothbrush? That’s practically caveman tech —HAHA ok, cavemen didn’t have manual toothbrushes like we have now, but electric toothbrushes are the bees-knees! An electric toothbrush, like the Sonicare toothbrush, gives you 30,000 brush strokes per minute! Which practically guarantees that you’re going to do a great job at cleaning your teeth. They truthfully come with a whole slew of benefits that far exceed a manual toothbrush.
And dental floss? There’s actually an upgrade for that too! It’s called a Hydrofloss. It’s like a mini carwash for your teeth that you should use before you brush and you won’t need to struggle with that piece of floss ever again.
#5: Splurge On The Good Stuff
When patients say, “I only want to do what my insurance covers.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard. Don’t get us wrong, we believe in maximizing whatever benefits a person may have, but the truth is an insurance company doesn’t care about you or your health. They care about making money, and they do that by not paying for the best quality treatments.
That’s not cool. And we’re not ok with that. So the treatments we recommend will always be based on a person’s needs and not their insurance coverage.
If your dental professionals won’t stand up for the quality of care you deserve, who will?! Furthermore, most insurances don’t cover treatments that are super beneficial to cavity prevention! So forget what a 3rd party insurance company will and won’t do, and instead invest in these treatments that will save you time, money, and pain in the long-run:
- Anti-Cavity Fluoride Treatments. We already mentioned how powerful fluoride is when it comes to preventing cavities from forming, but it also helps lessen tooth sensitivity. This treatment is done at the dental office and can be added to any preventative visit.
- Sealants. Not just for kids! Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the biting surfaces which are most vulnerable to bacterial buildup. Sealants cover the grooves that are a hiding place for bits of food, plaque and acid. This is also a quick treatment that you can add to your routine visit!
- Professional Grade Fluoride Toothpaste. We offer Fluoridex to our patients and again, fluoride is essential when it comes to prevention.
- Perio Protect. This treatment includes custom molds of your teeth called Perio Trays®. These trays help deposit medication deep below your gums where it can fight the bacteria and infections from gum disease. The best part? It helps you avoid oral surgery.
We Care About YOU
As you can see, doing simple things to ensure you’re doing a great job at home and working with a team of dental professionals who have your best interests at heart is an easy way to safeguard your health from bacteria, decay, and cavities that affect your quality of life.
Taking good care of your teeth can keep you smiling with confidence because you know you have a healthy, beautiful smile! We welcome you to give us a call at (661) 349-7725 to schedule a visit or you can simply schedule a visit online. We’re happy to help you get on the right path to being proactive with cavity prevention at our state-of-the-art dental office in Palmdale, CA.