Tooth decay is a major problem in Canada. According to Health Canada statistics, 59% of children ages 12-19 have or have had a cavity, and 96% of adults have a history of cavities. The average number of teeth affected by decay in children between the ages of 6-19 is 2.5. In general, tooth decay is far too common when you consider it can be prevented with minimal daily effort.
7 Habits to Fight Tooth Decay
Here are 7 useful habits you can practice immediately (and teach your kids to practice) to fight tooth decay and foster better overall oral health:
Nothing is more effective at combating all the sugars we consume daily than brushing your teeth. Brush properly at least twice per day for at least 2 minutes and after every meal if possible. If brushing isn’t an option immediately after a meal, then rinse your mouth out with water to help remove larger food particles. Use a toothpaste containing fluoride to strengthen the tooth enamel. Even with braces, it is important to follow these rules. Despite the challenges of brushing with braces, patience and the correct floss can ensure you’re keeping teeth and gums as clean as possible.
2. Floss Daily
Food particles become trapped between our teeth when we eat. If they are not removed, these particles can contribute to tooth decay, creating cavities over time. Flossing daily is most effective for removing food debris stuck between our teeth. As mentioned earlier, the wires that connect braces from tooth to tooth makes flossing a challenge, but you can utilize tools like a floss threader that guides dental floss underneath the archwires for an effective and easy clean.
3. Eat Healthy
A healthy diet can hugely affect your dental health. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein foods, calcium-rich foods and whole grains promotes healthy teeth and gums. In addition, limiting sugary and acidic foods, like soda or sour candies, can help prevent plaque from forming on your teeth.
4. Visit Your Dentist
Although there are no guidelines for how often you should see a dentist, getting regular checkups and cleanings is important to prevent cavities and improve your oral health. According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, people should go to the dentist twice a year for checkups and cleaning because many cavities are so small that only a dentist or a dental X-ray can properly diagnose the situation.
5. Seal Your Teeth
Dental sealants are a thin coating placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth — to prevent cavities and tooth decay. These sealants are designed to shield those surfaces from an accumulation of bacteria and plaque. Sealants can be used for both children with permanent teeth and adults.
6. Rinse Your Mouth
Rinsing with mouthwash after brushing has been clinically proven to reduce plaque and kill bacteria. That’s because only brushing still leaves a good amount of bacteria on your tongue, gums, and difficult to reach places on your teeth. Using mouthwash each time you brush can aid in cavity prevention. When choosing a mouthwash it is important to choose one without alcohol in it (i.e. Listerine Total Care). Alcohol dries your mouth and makes it more cavity-prone.
7. Chew Gum
Sugarless gum can be your mouth’s best friend. First, the physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. If chewed after eating, the increased saliva flow can help neutralize and wash away acids that were produced by the food. Acid, over time, can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for tooth decay. Another obvious effect of chewing gum is to freshen your breath, which is always a good thing!