The best way to deal with cavities is to keep them from forming in the first place. Besides, who doesn’t love hearing “No cavities!” at their dental checkup?
Although cavities are common —the CDC reports that more than 90% of adults have had dental cavities in their lives— they aren’t inevitable. When you learn how to prevent
tooth decay, and develop healthy oral hygiene habits from the time your first tooth erupts, the likelihood of ever having cavities goes down significantly.
The team at Newtown Dentistry loves telling patients that they don’t have any cavities during their visits. If you want to get the good news yourself, keep these tips on how to prevent cavities in mind.
How to Prevent Cavities the Easy Way: Good Oral Hygiene
One of the most effective methods of cavity prevention is something that you’re probably already doing: Brushing and flossing every day.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is the best way to remove the plaque, bacteria, food particles, and other debris that can contribute to cavities. Ideally, brush in the morning and at night immediately before bed. However, dentists also recommend brushing after each meal to keep your teeth as clean as possible.
For the healthiest teeth, choose a medium or soft-bristled brush and hold it at a 45-degree angle to clean both your teeth and gums. Gently scrub all surfaces, and spend at least two minutes brushing to ensure thorough cleaning. Set a timer, or use a power brush with a built-in timer to ensure you brush long enough.
According to a recent survey, almost two-thirds of adults never floss—and just under half of those who floss only do so once per week. If you are only brushing and not flossing, though, you could be putting yourself at a greater risk of cavities between your teeth.
Flossing at least once a day can go a long way toward preventing cavities. It doesn’t matter whether you use string dental floss, a flossing brush, or a water flosser, as long as you clean in-between your teeth daily. If you aren’t sure how to floss, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for tips.
Other Options for Cavity Prevention
Good oral hygiene is a good start toward cavity-free teeth, but there is more you can do.
Tooth decay is most often found in the back teeth, where bacteria, plaque, and food particles can get stuck in the grooves and pits of the chewing surface. And while good brushing habits can keep these surfaces clear, dental sealants offer an additional layer of protection.
Dental sealant is a type of resin applied directly to the back teeth. It covers the uneven surface, creating a barrier against cavity-causing plaque. The resin is either clear or white, so it’s not visible when you open your mouth.
Sealants are not permanent and only last for a few years. However, they are effective at preventing cavities. They are often used in children to prevent decay in new and developing teeth. Children are also still developing good oral hygiene habits, so sealants offer a little more protection. However, because the risk for cavities never goes away, adults may benefit from sealants as well. Sometimes, sealants can stop a cavity that has started to form from getting worse.
Any discussion of how to prevent cavities also needs to include fluoride.
Fluoride is a component of the naturally occurring element fluorine. It’s added to toothpaste, mouthwash, and many public drinking water systems to help prevent tooth decay. Essentially, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel against the effects of the acid created by the
combination of food we eat and naturally-occuring mouth bacteria. Fluoride in your saliva gets on your teeth, and is absorbed into the tooth enamel and combines with calcium and phosphate, leading to strong teeth that are less susceptible to cavities.
Fluoride alone will not protect your teeth against decay, but it is a powerful tool in the cavity-prevention kit. Newtown Dentistry also offers Silver Diamine fluoride treatments, which contain both silver and fluoride ions. These treatments can prevent cavities from forming, but they can also stop existing cavities from growing. The simple treatment is given during regular dental checkups.
Cavity Risk Assessment
Understanding your risk of a cavity can help you take steps to prevent them. Newtown Dentistry conducts screening exams using the CariScreen Meter. Your dentist will take a small plaque sample from your teeth with a swab, then test it using a bioluminescence reagent for a risk score. The goal is a score of less than 1,500, indicating a low risk of cavities.
Stay Cavity-Free with Newtown Dentistry
Taking care of your teeth—and following your dentist’s instructions—can keep you out of the chair and help you avoid fillings, crowns, and other dental procedures. For more insight into how to prevent cavities, download Newtown Dentistry’s free eBook “Cavity-Free is the Way to Be! (How To Prevent Dental Decay 101).”
Once you’ve checked out this helpful resource, make an appointment at Newtown Dentistry for a checkup and cleaning. You’ll have something to smile about in this fun, family-friendly environment, and you might even find yourself looking forward to seeing the dentist.