About 20% of kids have at least one cavity or decayed tooth between the ages of 5 and 11. From 12-19, approximately 13% of adolescents and young adults have at least one untreated decayed tooth. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Cavity prevention is an essential part of our general dentistry services here at Conte Dentistry in Red Bank, New Jersey. Our founder, Louis B. Conte, DDS, has assembled a guide to help you and your family stay cavity-free this year and beyond.
Eat tooth-friendly foods
Did you know that your diet not only influences how healthy you are, but can also affect whether you get cavities? Many foods contain ingredients that strengthen your teeth, such as the mineral calcium or vitamin B12.
Also, the level of acidity in foods influences your oral health. Foods that raise the pH in your mouth stimulate you to produce more tooth-protecting saliva. Foods that are good for your teeth include:
- Plain (no sugar) yogurt
- Red meat
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines
- Other green vegetables
- Red peppers
- Raw onions
Be careful with fruit, though. Many fruits — especially citrus fruits — contain both high levels of sugar and acid, which can wreak havoc on your enamel. Rinse (or brush) after eating fruit or any food.
Avoid sugary foods and beverages
Just as important as eating healthy, whole foods is avoiding processed foods and sugar that weaken your health and your teeth. Even some healthy foods, such as fruits, can damage your teeth if you don’t brush shortly afterward. Avoid:
- Corn syrup
- Sugary beverages
- Orange juice
- Apple juice
It’s better for your body and your teeth to consume a whole fruit than to drink fruit juice.
Break tooth-damaging habits
Wouldn’t you rather break a bad habit than break a good tooth? While changing your behavior can take time and effort, the payoff is worth it. Habits such as chewing on your pen, fingernails, ice, or other hard objects can cause you to chip, break, or create cracks in your teeth.
Once the enamel has been broken or cracked, your tooth has lost its first defense against cavities. Bacteria from the food you eat can travel into the pulp and tooth roots, causing infections and decay.
Brush and floss properly
Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. Since many people don’t have access to toothbrushes while at work or school, be sure you brush at least twice a day. You can simply rinse your mouth well after lunch or a snack.
Each time you brush, be sure you use a soft-bristled brush that won’t scratch your enamel and also use a light touch. Scrubbing can damage the enamel, which makes your teeth susceptible to cavities. Follow these steps:
- Use an ADA-approved toothpaste with fluoride
- Use a soft-bristled brush and a light touch
- Angle your brush at 45 degrees at top of gumline
- Gently brush back and forth in short, gentle strokes
- Brush all the surfaces of your teeth
- Brush for two minutes total, each time
Be sure to brush at least twice a day. Floss at least once a day, preferably before bedtime, to remove food that is caught between teeth or under your gumline.
Come see us twice a year
No amount of daily brushing can replace the need for a biannual dental visit. We thoroughly examine your teeth and oral tissues for signs of damage, cavities, and oral cancer. We also take X-rays when needed to see inside your teeth.
Our hygienists and Dr. Conte clean your teeth, between your teeth, and under your gumline using specialized tools. We remove dangerous tartar collections that can’t be removed with toothpaste alone. We also remove stains from your teeth and polish them so they look and feel smooth, clean, and bright.
Consider sealants and fluoride treatments for kids
Even if your child still has their baby teeth, getting a cavity could risk the loss of the tooth and might create complications when their permanent teeth erupt. We apply fluoride treatments to your child’s teeth to strengthen the enamel and make them resistant to cavities.
Children also benefit from sealants, which we apply to the molars. Children most often get cavities in their molars, so sealing off those surfaces decreases your child’s risk for a cavity.