Are you ready to reduce or even eliminate the thing that plagues and creates unsettling fear about dental visits? Here’s a hint: it’s not the cleaning or x-rays. It’s the dreaded c-word – the cavity. And if you’re one of the lucky ones, the cavity is small and can be repaired with a filling. But if it’s too big, then there’s more that must be done to repair the damage.
The good news is that by following these tips, cavities can be greatly reduced and even eliminated. This makes for a much more pleasant dental visit and report.
Chewing gum is not just for fresh breath, it helps prevent cavities as well.
In reality, it’s not the gum that prevents cavities; it’s the act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew gum (sugar-free gum) after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away food acids. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for decay. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. Look for chewing gum that delivers a variety of therapeutic agents that could provide additional benefits to saliva flow. For instance, some gum might contain active agents that could enhance the gum’s ability to reduce decay, or enable gum to help reduce plaque and gingivitis.
Some candy is ok.
Not all candy is bad for you or your teeth. Here are some ones to indulge in and some others to avoid.
1. Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies: These treats stimulate saliva, which prevents dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities.
2. Sugar-free gum: As we’ve already discovered, chewing gum can actually prevent cavities.
3. Dark chocolate: Chocolates are loaded with sugar, but studies have shown that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can be good for the heart. And they may even lower blood pressure. Just be sure to eat it in moderation.
Candies to avoid:
1. Sugary snacks: Candy corn, cookies, and cakes all contain a high amount of sugar, which can cause tooth decay.
2. Chewy/sticky sweets: Any gummy candies, taffy, and even dried fruit can be difficult for children and adults to resist, but they are a serious source of tooth decay. They are more likely to get stuck in the crevices between teeth, which makes it nearly impossible for saliva to wash away.
3. Sour candies: These may be a kid’s favorite, but the high acid levels in these treats can break down tooth enamel very quickly. The good news: Saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth. In other words, wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks. Otherwise you’re just brushing acid onto more tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.
Stop eating snacks between meals.
This is a good tip for your waistline as well as your oral health. Every snack is followed by an “acid attack” on the teeth. So, snacking all day causes the teeth to be bathed in acid continuously. Fewer snacks and eating desserts only with meals help to reduce the number of these “acid attacks” on teeth.
More about snacks and cravings.
Watch your diet.
Diet is another contributing factor to cavity susceptibility. It seems clear that caries-causing (cavity- causing) organisms prefer sugars—specifically sucrose—as a primary energy source. The metabolism of this sugar into lactic acid causes cavities. It is the frequency of sugar exposure in one’s diet—not the quantity—that predisposes one to cavities. So, controlling the number of sugar exposures (consolidating sugar-containing-sweet-eating episodes to mealtimes, for instance) aids in keeping your teeth healthy.
Keep your mouth clean.
Excessive amounts of specific ‘cavity-causing’ bacteria can result in tooth decay even if you have good dental hygiene and a low-sugar diet. And this issue is more important now than ever because people are investing in keeping their teeth healthy like never before. And don’t think that once you have a filling placed or a crown that you are out of the woods. Dental studies are finding that while new cavities in teeth are on the decline in America, there is an alarming increase in the amount of tooth decay forming underneath old dental fillings and crowns. This type of decay is harder to detect from x-rays and sometimes causes no pain. So as the saying goes, don’t wait ‘til it hurts. The bacteria gradually infect the nerve of the tooth and, over time, increases the likelihood of a future root canal. Keeping your mouth clean prevents bacterial tooth decay from eroding your teeth’s healthy surface and is essential to protecting the health of teeth long-term.