Hello again! Dr. Hayley Cox here with Santa Barbara Children’s Dentistry and today we’d like to talk to you about cavities and your at-home dental care routine. We all dread finding out we have a cavity. Cavities often make us feel like we haven’t prioritized our oral health. Not only can cavities feel embarrassing, but they can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which are serious oral health problems.
The good news is these are problems that can easily be prevented at home! The orthodontic experts in our Santa Barbara, CA office are here to help you maintain a healthy mouth and set up your own personal dental care routine and habits to protect your mouth from tooth decay and gum disease!
- Brush, Floss and Don’t Forget the Mouthwash!
Brushing and flossing every day is vital to the health of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day, ideally once in the morning and once in the evening, and flossing every day. Make sure you’re using fluoride toothpaste, and bonus points if it has the American Dental Association’s seal of approval! I know flossing isn’t everyone’s favorite after-meal hobby, but flossing keeps the spaces between your teeth free of plaque. A buildup of plaque can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if left untreated. Additionally, incorporating mouthwash into your oral care routine is great! Mouthwash should be treated as an addition to your oral care routine, not a substitution! Mouthwash works together with flossing to remove any food particles and plaque buildup from the spaces in between your teeth to keep them healthy. It can also ensure fresh breath! If you have sensitive teeth, opt for an alcohol free mouthwash.
- Watch your sugar intake
Sugar has a direct connection to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. It is often the main dietary culprit when it comes to these oral care concerns. After we eat sugar, some of the molecules in sugar stay behind in our mouths – when they combine with the bacteria and saliva in our mouths, it creates plaque. If plaque stays on our teeth, it will begin to dissolve our enamel, which leads to cavities. Sugar consumption is of course okay in moderation, and when you do enjoy that bowl of ice cream, you definitely need to prioritize brushing and flossing after eating sugary foods.
- Stay hydrated
Hydration, as we know, is of course good for overall health, but it is also good for your oral health. Water acts as an acid neutralizer for your mouth which helps keep your mouth at a healthy pH and lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Staying hydrated also encourages saliva production, and normal saliva production prevents mouth dryness from occurring. This is beneficial because mouth dryness can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease – without saliva present to neutralize pH levels, your teeth can become subject to harmful acids. Healthy saliva production can also kill germs and prevent bad breath.
- Eat lots of crunchy, fresh fruits and vegetables
You may not realize it, but chewing crunchy vegetables can help protect your mouth from cavities and harmful bacteria. Munching on crisp vegetables, like carrots, can help clear plaque from your teeth, and anything that helps control plaque is good! Firm fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain a lot of water, are great natural teeth cleaners. As you chew these foods, you increase your saliva production and saliva helps clear out food particles and bacteria.
- Avoid habits that are bad for oral health
Habits like smoking and chewing tobacco can cause a whole slew of mouth related issues. Smoking cigarettes will cause harsh teeth stains and chewing tobacco can interrupt your gum health by leading to gum disease. These activities are even known to cause oral cancer. Smoking and chewing tobacco offer zero benefits to your oral health, and will really only harm your teeth in the long run.
While it may seem daunting trying to prevent enamel wear, cavities and gum disease, there are so many steps you can take to ensure your mouth stays healthy. Follow these recommended 5 Tips to Step Up Your Home Dental Care! If you prioritize your dental health now, your overall health will thank you in the long run.