According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91% of Americans over 20 years of age have cavities and 27% leave them untreated.
If you’re a statistic and wondering why you keep getting cavities, it is worth noting that they could be due to your own oral habits.
Common culprits in cavities include:
* sipping and grazing on anything sugary, acidic or starchy,
* poor oral hygiene,
* not getting enough fluoride, and
* wearing poorly fitting or worn dental devices.
At Marion Smile Center, Dr. Marion and his dynamic team of highly skilled dental hygienists are dedicated to helping our patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles throughout their lives. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of simple yet effective strategies to help you prevent dental cavities and safeguard your oral health. Check these out:
1.) Make it a habit to brush and floss as often as necessary—and do so properly.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has made the following recommendations for proper brushing and flossing:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day.
- Get a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently. These can help prevent enamel erosion and gum injury. We recommend electric toothbrushes as they clean teeth and gums much better than old-fashioned manual toothbrushes. In fact, scientists have found that people who use electric toothbrushes have less tooth decay than people who brush with regular manual toothbrushes. This 11-year study that concluded electric toothbrushes resulted in 18% less cavities and 22% less gum recession was done by the Oral Health Foundation and completed in 2018.
- Position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums. Move your toothbrush back and forth gently in short strokes while making sure you brush the outer inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your gums.
- Use the tip of your toothbrush to reach the inside surfaces of your front teeth. Do this with a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Never forget to brush your tongue. This eliminates the bad bacteria in your mouth and freshens your breath.
- Replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months.
- Floss your teeth once a day. The best time to floss is right before bed. Since nighttime is the longest period of time you likely spend not eating or drinking, we can keep the areas between the teeth free from food and bacteria for the entire time that you sleep. Flossing only takes a few minutes. If this sounds like it’s too much, start small and develop a routine that sticks.
2.) Cut back on sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
Constantly exposing your teeth to acidic, starchy, and sugary foods and drinks can worsen your cavities and increase your risk of developing new ones. It’s not just how much of these foods you consume, it’s how often. For example, every time you take a sip of soda, that is 1 exposure, so sipping throughout the day is exposing your teeth more, making you more susceptible to cavities.
Surprisingly, starchy refined carbohydrates like crackers, pasta, or bread can be just as harmful to your teeth as candy. These carbohydrates can linger in your mouth and will break down into simple sugars. Bacteria will then feed on these sugars, which will produce acid, which causes cavities. After consuming these types of foods, try to brush your teeth or at the very least, rinse your mouth with water.
3.) See Dr. Marion and his hygienists regularly.
Professional Oral Examinations: Seeing Dr. Marion every 6 months for a complete oral examination is highly instrumental in preventing the formation of additional cavities, stopping the existing ones from getting worse, spreading to the adjacent teeth, and getting them out of your mouth altogether. This helps Dr. Marion preserve the structure of your affected tooth, reduce the likelihood of pain, and ultimately eliminate the need for a more invasive treatment—a root canal or tooth extraction.
Professional Cleanings: Seeing one of Dr. Marion’s dental hygienists for professional cleanings several times a year is most helpful as they have special instruments that reach places in the mouth that patients cannot reach on their own. These include a Prophy-Jet cleaning system, which is an air polishing prophylaxis system that utilizes air, water, and either sodium bicarbonate or a non-sodium powder to remove plaque, soft debris, and stains. Additionally, they may use a pressurized machine to push antibacterial rinses into those hard-to-reach areas, such as between the teeth and beneath the gums.
If one of our licensed hygienists think that you will benefit from a fluoride treatment, they will talk to you about applying Fluoride Varnish to the teeth after performing a professional cleaning. Not only does the Fluoride Varnish harden the teeth helping to prevent future cavities, it can also reduce tooth sensitivity. Additionally, our hygienists often recommend using supplemental fluoride to strengthen your teeth and they offer other dental services.
4.) Quit smoking.
You must have heard time and time again about the detrimental effects of smoking on your overall health. Your oral health is no exception: smoking creates a conducive environment for bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup, which all lead to cavities, decay, and ultimately, tooth loss.
First-Rate Dental Care in Zelienople, PA
Dr. Mark A. Marion had been featured in Pittsburgh Magazine as the top dentist for 9 consecutive years—and for a very good reason. He has dedicated his entire career to providing the men, women, and children in our community with the highest quality of dental care using the most advanced dental procedures. Dr. Marion keeps abreast of the latest developments in dental technology to ensure excellent outcomes for all of our patients.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Marion, you can call us at (724) 452-4300. You can also request an appointment online.