Your general dentist is dedicated to preserving your oral health by preventing dental issues. Regular visits to your dentist’s office decreases your risk of developing problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. However, what happens between dental appointments?
The American Dental Association recommends visiting your general dentist at least once every six months. While a good dentist will help improve your oral health with dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings, only you can manage your oral health in between these dental appointments.
No need to fret! Managing your oral health is actually relatively easy once you have a routine in place. Between your dental appointments, here are five ways that you can prevent cavities:
Daily Brushing and Flossing
Of course your daily dental routine is one very important way to prevent cavities. Your daily dental routine should consist of brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing once a day. Brushing and flossing remove the plaque from your teeth and decrease the amount of cavity-causing bacteria. In order to completely clean the surface of your teeth, you will need to brush AND floss. People who skip flossing are leaving about 40% of their tooth’s surface unclean. Bacteria tend to accumulate in places that are not regularly disturbed, so practicing regular flossing can decrease your risk of cavities.
Use the Right Dental Supplies
Just as your daily dental routine is important, so are the dental supplies that you use. You should make sure that your toothpaste and toothbrush are both approved by the American Dental Association by looking for the ADA seal of approval. Your toothpaste should also contain fluoride and your toothbrush should have soft, firm bristles. Toothbrushes that are too hard can cause premature enamel wear and gum recession. It is also important to remember to replace your toothbrush about every 3-4 months or after you’ve been sick.
Watch Your Diet
The bacteria that cause cavities love to feed on sugars in the foods and beverages you consume. This means that the more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to develop cavities. An easy way to prevent cavities is to simply decrease your sugar intake and eat foods that will promote your oral health rather than being detrimental.
Wear Prescribed Dental Appliances
If your dentist has recommended or prescribed dental appliances, make sure you actually wear them. One common dental appliance is a mouth guard used to protect teeth from the effects of teeth grinding and clenching. Not wearing your mouth guard can cause your enamel to wear out faster and increase your risk of developing cavities. Another common appliance is a retainer used after orthodontic treatment. Retainers hold your new smile in place and prevent the teeth from shifting back to their previous position. Because straight teeth are easier to keep clean, and cleaner teeth are healthier, it is essential to wear the retainer and maintain your results.
Avoid Dental Emergencies
Teeth that are damaged are more susceptible to developing cavities. Although some dental emergencies cannot be avoided, many types of situations requiring emergency dental care can be prevented. The best ways to prevent dental emergencies include wearing the proper protective equipment and avoiding damaging behaviors. For example, if you play close contact sports, a protective sports mouth guard should be worn to prevent your teeth from being damaged. Dental emergencies can also be prevented by avoiding nail biting, chewing or biting hard foods, and using your teeth to open packages.
In following these five guidelines, you can help manage your oral health in between dental visits. Practicing a daily dental routine with the correct dental supplies, watching your diet, wearing prescribed dental appliances, and taking precautionary measures to prevent the need for emergency dental care are all important steps to preventing dental cavities.