Tooth decay occurs when plaque breaks down the enamel and dentin layers of the teeth, leading to toothache, sensitivity, and cavities. The often-painful toothache associated with tooth decay is a common reason for visiting an emergency dentist, which can be both expensive and inconvenient. As with many dental problems, prevention through good oral care is cheaper and healthier than the cure. This short guide will explain how tooth decay can be prevented through a variety of means, from excellent oral hygiene to regular dental visits.
Take a Look At Your Oral Hygiene Routine
The simplest way to reduce the risk of tooth decay is to stick to a consistent, comprehensive oral hygiene routine. Mouth Healthy suggests brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, as well as cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or interdental brushes. You may also want to consider cleaning your teeth or using mouthwash after meals.
Watch Your Food and Drink Intake
While some foods have little effect on the teeth, there are certain foods that should be avoided if you want to protect yourself from tooth decay. WebMD lays out some of the most common tooth-harming foods, including sticky foods like sweets and chocolate, as well as carbohydrates such as crisps and pretzels. A healthy, balanced diet goes a long way towards preventing tooth decay.
Consider Your Lifestyle
There are some lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drinking alcohol regularly, that can have a poor effect on the teeth and contribute to decay. The NHS explains how smoking lowers saliva production, making it harder for the teeth to stay clean, and excessive use of alcohol can erode the tooth enamel. If your lifestyle is having a negative impact on your teeth, you may want to consider stopping or reducing your consumption of alcohol or cigarettes.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Seeing your dentist on a regular basis is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay. Not only can they spot and treat early signs of decay, they can also give you advice on your overall oral health as well as performing a professional clean to remove plaque from the teeth. They may also, as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research points out, consider applying sealants to the back teeth. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings which are attached to the chewing surfaces of the molars, to protect them from damage and decay.
While tooth decay is can be painful and unpleasant, mild decay can be reversed or halted by following the steps above. If you do feel that you have symptoms of tooth decay, see a dentist as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.