Stopping cavities before they start

Stopping cavities before they start

Dental cavities remain one of the most common chronic diseases in America for both children and adults. Unfortunately, once decay has entered the dentin layer of the tooth, it is irreversible and has to be treated with a restoration, or filling.

Let’s rewind to before the disease process has started. Dental cavities are preventable and here are a few steps to prevent this disease from effecting your life.

Proper Diet. Sugary and starchy foods are easily broken down by the cavity-forming bacteria in your mouth. It’s best to cut out sodas, candy and junk food. If you find yourself struggling with this, cut it down to select times of day when you are already eating a meal instead of sipping or snacking throughout a long period of time.

Efficient Flossing. Try to make it a habit to floss at a specific time of day. It may seem like a hassle at first, but soon it will become part of your routine. You may not believe it will make a difference in your life, so we challenge you to take a solid week to floss every single day. You will notice a difference in how your gums feel.

It is also important to floss correctly. The floss should hug the tooth in a “C” shape. Also, the floss should pass slightly below the gum line to remove plaque build-up between your gum and tooth. Your gums may bleed; this is a sign of inflammation. Keep flossing every day. The bleeding will stop when your gums are healthy.

Effective Brushing. People are more effective in removing plaque with an electric toothbrush. If you decide to stick with a manual toothbrush, buy one with soft bristles. Medium or hard bristle toothbrushes can cause gum recession and can remove the outer layer of your tooth, which is called abrasion. 

When brushing, make small circles with a soft touch. Scrubbing your teeth can also cause gum recession and abrasion. If you notice that the bristles of your toothbrush are splaying out, this is a good indicator that you are using too much pressure while brushing your teeth.

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, each time brushing for two minutes.

  • Always brush before going to bed and brush again if you have a midnight snack after brushing.
  • Don’t brush right after orange juice, coffee, soda or anything acidic. Wait 20 minutes for your teeth to re-mineralize. Otherwise, you will be removing enamel.
  • Don’t brush right after vomiting. Rinse with baking soda and water to help make your mouth more basic. Wait 20 minutes, and then brush your teeth. 

***Note to Parents: if your child cannot yet tie his or her own shoe, he or she does not have the manual dexterity needed to brush on their own yet. Let them brush and then go over what they may have missed.

Rinse with Fluoride mouthwash before bed.

Keep your regular dental appointments. Your dental professional can help you identify areas that you may be missing while brushing and flossing your teeth. If you do have a cavity, it can be caught before it causes you any problems. Most dental cavities don’t hurt until they are close to the nerve. At this point, the treatment is typically either a root canal or extraction (pulling the tooth).

If you don’t have a dentist you see regularly or would like more information about dental care, contact Marshall Dentistry & Oral Surgery at 304-691-1247.

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Marshall Health

Marshall Health is the academic medical team of the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

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