Protect Your Pearly Whites

Cavities, also called tooth decay, are one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States. It occurs when bacteria feed off of sugars in your mouth and produce acid. The acid attacks your tooth enamel — the hard, outer layer of your teeth. Over time, these acids can form a cavity in your tooth. More than 80 percent of people have had at least one cavity by age 34. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable.

Keep it clean

Preventing tooth decay starts with practicing good dental hygiene. Here are some tips to follow to keep your mouth, gums and teeth healthy.

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth with floss or another type of interdental cleaner once a day.

Chew on this

Not only can your diet affect your overall health, but what you eat and drink can also impact your dental health. Sugar of any kind in food and drinks can contribute to tooth decay. Sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and juice are major culprits. When reaching for a beverage, choose water instead.

Snacking smart can also make a difference. Chips and crackers contain carbohydrates that break down into sugar. These foods also tend to get stuck in your teeth. You should also avoid sticky foods like dried fruit and candy. Enjoy a nutritious choice, such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables or nuts instead.

Open wide

Visiting your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and exam is important to maintaining your dental health. These visits can help prevent dental problems from happening in the first place or the dentist can spot them early when they are easier to treat. During a dental checkup, the dentist or dental hygienist will remove dental plaque, check for signs of tooth decay, and apply a fluoride gel or varnish if necessary. Your dentist can help determine how often you need a checkup.