Most people know that brushing and flossing help prevent cavities but do you know why they do? And did you know there are other ways you can prevent cavities from forming in your mouth?
Brushing and flossing prevent cavities by physically removing plaque and food that settle on teeth. Toothbrush bristles can’t reach between your teeth’s tight contacts which is why floss is the best way to remove plaque and food that gets between your teeth. If you can't (or won't) floss, using oral irrigation (such as a WaterPik) is another way to remove plaque and food from between your teeth.
Fluoride, Potassium and Calcium are all elements that can help remineralize enamel that’s damaged by acids in your diet or from bacteria reacting to foods. They do this by replacing calcium that’s been eroded away from your tooth. This remineralization happens early on, before cavities have a chance to form so it needs to be something you do every day for it to be helpful. These elements can all be found in toothpastes (though maybe not all in the same toothpaste.) There are even some toothpastes with higher fluoride content than the usual ones found on the store shelf.
Fluoride is also in some mouthwashes. The liquid form may help it penetrate better between the teeth. Some are available on store shelves and others can be purchased by asking at the pharmacy. There are also fluoride gels available at the pharmacy that are brushed on your teeth after you’ve brushed and flossed them. Your dentist may also recommend fluoride treatments at the dental office after your teeth cleanings. The cleaning paste your dentist or dental hygienist uses makes your teeth more likely to absorb the fluoride
Whenever possible you should wait thirty (30) minutes to eat, drink or rinse after a fluoride application. This will allow the fluoride time to soak into your teeth.
Sealants are another way to prevent cavities. If you look at your back teeth, many will have grooves on the chewing surface. The grooves may be shallow or deep. Deep grooves are often too narrow for the toothbrush bristle to clean. A sealant starts as a liquid that flows into these grooves. The sealant material is then hardened with a bright light to create a smooth surface that you can easily clean with your toothbrush. Sealants can be placed on a tooth at any age, but it is best to apply them as soon as possible after the tooth comes into the mouth.
Seeing your dentist regularly: Hardened plaque (called tartar or calculus) traps softer plaque and bacteria against your teeth, causing the same processes discussed earlier. This tartar or calculus can only be removed at a dental office.
*Note: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Your dentist can advise which of these options are best for you and provide product recommendations. If you do not have a dentist, I invite you to call my office at 440-960-1940 or contact us via my website at www.drjrobb.com to join. You can also ask me questions on facebook at www.facebook.com/drjenniferrobb