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Prevent Tooth Decay: Easy Tips for the Entire Family

Richard A Huot, DDS

Tooth decay is the most common form of disease, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is six more times more common in children than asthma. Fortunately, most of all forms of tooth decay are preventable in both children and adults. This article will identify how tooth decay starts in your teeth and how you and your family members can prevent its formation. It will also provide a few tips on how to prevent tooth decay from starting.

Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is constantly forming on your teeth, especially when you eat or drink foods containing sugars. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth, and over time, the enamel can break down. This is when tooth decay can begin, and it could eventually cause what is commonly known as cavities.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Brushing after every meal, at lease twice a day, is the best way to prevent tooth decay and keep your smile healthy. The plaque that forms on your teeth is easily disrupted by simply brushing away the food particles in and around your teeth, which will prevent the formation of acids that can lead to tooth decay. Along with a soft-bristled toothbrush, brushing for at least two minutes with an American Dental Association Accepted fluoride toothpaste will help you keep you mouth free of decay. The fluoride in the toothpaste acts to harden the outer enamel surface of all teeth, making them more resistant to decay.

It is highly recommended that you use floss to remove particles that are found in hard-to-reach places, and then brush before you go to sleep at night, since overnight is the longest period of time that your teeth will have to fight off acid attacks. Using a fluoride rinse such as Colgate Phos-Flur before bedtime will coat the teeth while you sleep and provide long-lasting protection against tooth decay.

Along with good daily habits, a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and low-starch foods will also promote less tooth decay. It is extremely important for young children to drink water while playing sports instead consuming sport drinks and juices that have a lot of sugar. A good rule of thumb is that if it is healthy for the rest of your body, it is healthy for your mouth and teeth as well!

Seeing Your Dentist Twice a Year

Finally, the importance of routine visits to the dentist at least twice a year for all adults and children cannot be overstated. According to the American Dental Association, only 37 percent of the American population goes to see the dentist at least once a year. Routine visits to the dentist and dental hygienist will be less costly to families in the long run, as preventive visits will ensure a lifetime of good oral health and prevent minor dental problems such as tooth decay. If left untreated, these minor problems have the potential to become major dental issues that can lead to toothaches, infection and costly treatment.

Don't forget, no one is born with tooth decay, so with proper oral hygiene habits and timely preventive visits, all adults and children can live a healthy, tooth-decay-free lifestyle!

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