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How to Prevent Cavities in Three Important Steps

Margie Monin Dombrowski

Cavities occur when plaque sticks to a tooth and produces an acid that eats through the enamel and creates a hole or cavity, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The cavity could get larger and eventually affect the tooth root if it's not repaired with a filling. Cavities are typically caused by eating carbohydrates and poor oral hygiene habits, and they require a trip to the dentist. It is easy to learn how to prevent cavities. Take some precautions, and follow a few simple steps.

Watch What You Eat

If you have a sweet tooth, you're more likely to get cavities because frequent snacking throughout the day on sugary and starchy foods leaves cavity-causing acids on the teeth. Snacking also increases the amount of time the acids are on your teeth, which increases your chances of cavities. To minimize your cavity risk, cut back on sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks and juices. Drink plenty of plain water instead. Skip the sweets, snacks and candies. Opt for fresh fruits and veggies as healthier alternatives. Eliminating sugary snacks in your diet will improve your oral health, and it will also improve your overall health.

Keep Those Dental Appointments

As many as 23.7 percent of American adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have untreated cavities, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If it's been a while since your last dental appointment, it's time to schedule a visit. Going to the dentist is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. At your visit, your dentist will take X-rays and examine your entire mouth. He will check for cavities and gum disease to determine whether you need additional treatment.

There are some cavity-fighting treatments available at your dentist's office. They include cleanings and dental sealants. Dental cleanings keep your teeth in pristine condition by removing plaque and tartar buildup. The dental hygienist can also polish your teeth so they'll appear whiter.

According to the ADA, dental sealants are a protective plastic coating placed in the deep grooves on the chewing surface of the back permanent teeth. These sealants can prevent cavity-causing bacteria from affecting your teeth, and the sealants typically last for several years.

At your visit, your dentist will also give you advice on how to prevent cavities by taking charge of your oral hygiene at home.

Fight Cavities on the Home Front

Cavity prevention starts at home. If you floss regularly, brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and rinse with mouthwash, you can prevent tooth decay. A prescription fluoride rinse, such as Colgate® PreviDent®, can reduce cavities by 55 percent when it is used as a supplement to your oral care routine.

Learn more about cavities in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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