Tooth decay is among the leading causes of tooth loss for Americans, and it can open the door to developing serious overall health problems.
Just as healthy habits can help protect your body against disease, healthy dental habits can safeguard against tooth decay and help avert other dental problems, as well.
First, it’s important to know how tooth decay happens. After eating, bacteria in your mouth start working to break down leftover particles of food, which then produce acids. These acids combine with debris in your mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque, which tends to deposit on molars and near your gum line.
Plaque acids build up quickly and can be destructive to your dental health. They weaken the enamel of your teeth, and this can lead to tooth decay and cavities. If a cavity is left untreated, the tooth decay will continue, and the cavity will continue to grow. An abscess or infection may develop and eventually, the tooth may be destroyed and have to be repaired with the help of restorative dentistry.
To minimize your chances of having decaying teeth, try these six healthy dental habits:
1. Brush frequently. Once a day won’t cut it. Every morning and night is the minimum to maintain quality oral health and prevent dental problems.
2. Floss daily. Brushing alone is not enough. Your toothbrush can’t get into those deep nooks and crannies in between your teeth, so flossing at least once a day is necessary.
3. Have regular dental checkups. Go to the dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning and checkup to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
4. Limit sugary foods and drinks. Sweets stick to your teeth and lead to decay when bacteria feed on them and form acids. If you eat something sugary, be sure to brush or swish your mouth with water right afterward to rid your teeth of bacteria.
5. Drink tap water. Though bottled water may seem more convenient and healthier, it’s lacking something very important for your dental health: fluoride. Much of the U.S. has fluoridated water, so simply drinking tap water will help to protect your teeth.
6. Get a sealant. Sealants are used to coat and cover the teeth in the back of your mouth to prevent tooth decay. I recommend dental sealants for children to help promote lifelong dental health.
I’m Dr. Brad Greenfield, a family dentist in Lake Orion, Michigan, and my team and I want to help you achieve and maintain optimal oral health. Call Lake Orion Family Dentistry at (248) 693-6213 to schedule your dental checkup and cleaning.