Cavities, also known as caries, are small holes that develop in your teeth because of decay that starts when bacteria takes hold in a soft spot in your tooth enamel. Cavities are one of the most common oral health issues we see in our practice, and one of the most easily avoided.
At Silver Lake Dentistry in Raymore, Missouri, our caring providers offer a full range of general and cosmetic dentistry services, including fillings to restore teeth that have developed cavities.
Risk factors for cavities
Your genetics can play a role in how healthy your teeth are to start with, but on the whole it’s lifestyle choices that cause the most harm to your mouth. Risk factors for cavities include:
- Sugary and starchy foods
- Crowded teeth, especially in the back of the mouth
- Dry mouth
- Acid reflux
- Eating disorders
- Age (the very young and very old are at higher risk)
- Old fillings
You probably have had a cavity already. A whopping 57% of Americans have incurred at least one cavity in a permanent tooth before the age of 20. However, you can lower your risk for more cavities by following some simple steps.
Brush, brush, brush
Brushing your teeth isn’t just designed to remove large clumps of food or freshen your breath. Brushing properly will remove the tiny food particles and bacteria that can accumulate along the gum line and pave the way for cavities.
Brush your teeth at least twice daily for a minimum of two minutes. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle from your gums, brush gently in a circular or horizontal motion. Make sure to overlap the gums, and pay equal attention to all faces of each tooth.
Floss, floss, floss
Flossing helps clean the spaces between your teeth and reduce plaque buildup. You should be flossing at least once a day, using a long piece of clean floss, a floss pick, or a Waterpik®. Follow the curves on the sides of your teeth all the way down to the gumline. In addition to preventing cavities, flossing also reduces your risk for gum disease.
Visit your dentist twice a year
Brushing and flossing are the front line of defense for cavity prevention, but avoiding dental cleanings can mean that you still end up with cavities. When you visit your dentist, we can look for soft spots in your enamel and show you where your brushing and flossing habits are falling short. We can also clean deeper and more thoroughly along the gum line to get rid of nasty tartar.
Cut down on the junk foods
If your diet is rich in added sugars, or includes a lot of sticky sweet foods like candy and soda pop, cavities are much more likely to take hold. Wash down sweet drinks and treats with plenty of water, and rinse your mouth after meals if you can’t get to a bathroom to brush and floss right away. Chew sugar-free gum to keep saliva flow up and wash away tiny food particles.
Are you wondering what else you can do to help prevent (more) cavities? Our priority is to make you a full partner in your oral health care, so you can preserve your beautiful smile. Contact us at 816-368-5968 today, and let us continue your oral health education!