Your teeth affect your overall health more than you might think. People who have poor oral health are at risk of cardiovascular disease because the bacteria from infected gums can enter the bloodstream and cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Patients with diseased teeth might also develop Alzheimer’s disease and respiratory ailments. At Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, we help all our patients understand the best cavity prevention methods.
What Are the Most Important Steps for Cavity Prevention?
Some people are more susceptible to cavities than others due to genetic factors. Despite this, everyone can decrease the risk of oral health issues by taking good care of their mouths and avoiding substances that damage the teeth. It’s important to eat a healthy diet that includes nutritious foods and beverages low in sugar. Nicotine should be avoided because it causes cancer, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day. If necessary, you can use mouthwash, but be careful because some products damage the good bacteria in your mouth. Speak to us about the toothpaste you use. We’ll help you make sure that it isn’t damaging your teeth and that it contains important substances like fluoride. If you’re not sure whether you’re brushing well, use disclosing tablets.
Avoiding Damaging Foods
Certain foods have very little nutritional value and are terrible for your teeth, so it’s best to avoid them entirely. They include most kinds of candy. Sour candies are particularly bad because they are acidic as well as sweet, so they wear away the protective enamel. Often, they are chewy, so they stick to the teeth for much longer than other foods and cause more damage.
Potato chips and bread aren’t great for your oral health, either, as they contain a lot of starch that breaks down in the mouth. When you chew these foods, they turn into a gooey paste that sticks to the teeth and causes cavities. Although dried fruits are healthy, they stick to the teeth. Consume them in moderation and brush your teeth after your meal.
Eating the Right Foods
Although many foods contribute to oral health problems, some can prevent issues. If you want to have healthy teeth in the long run, eat plenty of cheese and yogurt and drink milk regularly. Dairy products are high in calcium, so they increase your bone density. Cheese also contains casein, a substance that fortifies the tooth enamel.
Leafy greens like kale, lettuce, and spinach are a good choice because they contain many vitamins and minerals that help your body fight harmful bacteria. Crunchy greens also clean your teeth. Eat plenty of hard, fibrous fruits like apples and pears since they stimulate the gums and increase salivation. This encourages the body to flush away harmful substances.
Avoiding Sugary Drinks
Some studies have shown that drinking a lot of soda damages the teeth as much as using hard drugs. These drinks encourage a buildup of plaque and increase the production of acid inside the mouth. Therefore, cavities become much more likely. If you have to drink sodas, choose sugar-free versions. It’s much better to stick to water or herbal tea.
Alcohol is just as damaging as sugary drinks because it dries out your mouth. If you don’t have enough saliva, harmful substances can’t be flushed out, and the mouth isn’t protected from cavities, gum disease, and infections. Drink plenty of water whenever you consume alcohol to rehydrate your body. The CDC recommends that adult men drink two drinks or fewer and women drink one drink or fewer per day.
Brushing Your Teeth Every Day
The best way to prevent bacteria from turning the sugars in your food into dental plaque is to brush your teeth twice a day. Spend at least two to three minutes scrubbing every surface of your teeth so no food particles are left behind. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush is best because it doesn’t damage your tissues and decreases your risk of gum disease.
Start by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and applying slight pressure. Brush the outer and inner chewing surfaces as well as the tops of your teeth. Brush your tongue to freshen your breath and remove the remaining bacteria. It’s important to replace your toothbrush every two to four months because harmful bacteria can grow on it if it’s used for too long.
Choose the Right Products
Not all oral health products are equally good. Many kinds of toothpaste sold in supermarkets or pharmacies contain substances that can either be harmful to the teeth or affect the rest of the body. Avoid anything that contains triclosan because this chemical can decrease your thyroid hormones. Avoid sodium lauryl sulphate, a substance that sometimes irritates the skin, and propylene glycol, which can affect the liver and kidneys.
If you have young children, you might be tempted to purchase toothpaste that contains artificial sweeteners to make the oral hygiene routine more appealing. But this is counterproductive because some sweeteners lead to health issues later in life. If you’re not sure what products to use, let us know. We can tell you which toothpaste brands are safe and effective.
Flossing is extremely important for cavity prevention because it removes bits of food stuck between the teeth that can’t be brushed away. Most patients can use the regular dental floss available at pharmacies and supermarkets. However, some people find the flossing process uncomfortable, so they have to use special devices.
At the clinic, we find that most people brush their teeth, but many have trouble getting into a flossing habit. Nobody enjoys flossing, but it’s a small thing that can significantly improve oral and overall health. Patients are often more successful if they multitask. They might floss while watching TV or reading a book. That way, the time spent feels productive and not wasted.
Using Disclosing Tablets
Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether you’ve successfully removed all the plaque from your teeth. A great way to check whether your oral hygiene routine is effective is to use plaque disclosing tablets. They are chewable and contain a dye that stains the plaque on your teeth. After taking the tablet, you’ll see where you’re not brushing enough and for how long the plaque has been clinging to your teeth.
You don’t have to use disclosing tablets very often. If you have good oral hygiene habits, chew one every few months to check that you’re still keeping your teeth plaque-free. Disclosing tablets are an excellent tool for adults, but they’re also great for children because they provide such visible results.
Everyone knows that smoking causes a range of health problems, but few people are aware that it also affects oral health. Aside from staining the teeth, regular smoking can lead to tumors in the mouth, gum disease, and broken teeth.
If you’re worried about how smoking is affecting your health, give us a call. We can put you in touch with experts who will help you to quit. A nicotine addiction is extremely hard to break, so it’s unlikely that you’ll succeed without the input of professionals.
Get Professional Cleanings and Oral Exams Regularly
No matter how well you take care of your teeth, you still need to see a doctor regularly. We recommend that our patients come to see us at least once a year. During the appointment, we check that there are no new issues, and we determine whether any orthodontic treatments are necessary.
Our experienced dental hygienists get rid of plaque and evaluate the patient’s oral hygiene routine. If there are any issues, they give advice and recommend products. Although you might think that coming to the clinic once or twice a year is an unnecessary expense, this isn’t the case. In the long run, it’s cheaper to get regular checkups than to wait until problems arise. Dental issues are much harder to fix than to prevent, so oral exams are essential.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy and Strong
Good oral hygiene is crucial because it prevents a buildup of dangerous bacteria that can travel from the mouth to other parts of the body and cause life-threatening diseases. Some of the best cavity prevention methods are avoiding sugary and acidic foods, brushing and flossing every day, drinking only water and other sugar-free drinks, and getting the teeth checked regularly. Call us at Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX to book your appointment.