According to Scientific American, about 97% of people will develop at least one dental cavity at some point in their lives. When destructive anaerobic bacteria break down the protective barriers of the teeth, three types of decay can develop and lead to cavities. Certain factors like recessed gums and teeth with deep grooves cannot be controlled. The good news is even if you are more susceptible, following a few simple steps can help combat the anaerobic bacteria responsible for the formation of cavities.
How to Prevent Cavities
- Avoid sugar: Sugar accumulating between the teeth and along the gums fuel destructive bacteria. The bacteria multiply and erode tooth enamel, the layer that protects against decay. While avoiding candy and sugary gum is a good first step, it's also best to avoid sugary drinks, pastries, cookies, and any other foods with a lot of sugar. If you need to chew gum or suck on mints due to dry mouth, select sugar-free varieties with soothing ingredients.
- Avoid sticky fruits: Not only are they laden with natural sugar, sticky dried fruits like raisins can cause cavities because they remain on the tooth surface longer than other types of food. If you choose to eat sticky foods of any kind, rinse with water, brush, and floss thoroughly immediately thereafter.
- Brush your teeth after every meal: When eating meals away from home (e.g. at work or restaurants), carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you. Depending on your job, you can leave this in your desk, car, or another convenient place. Brushing your teeth after every meal with fluoride toothpaste helps ensure no food particles are left behind. Fluoride is recommended by dentists because it helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth.
- Drink water after every meal: In addition to brushing, drinking water is the best way to flush food debris out of the mouth. Saliva is a natural way to combat cavities because it washes away destructive food particles, sugars, and bacteria in the mouth. So if you're suffering from dry mouth, it's even more important to drink water to hydrate and prevent bacteria from flourishing in a dry environment. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day is also beneficial for your overall health.
- Choose tea instead of coffee after meals: Coffee is more acidic than tea, although caffeinated varieties of both can dry out the mouth. Tea is pH neutral, but resist the urge to add sugar or honey.