To help prevent cavities, brushing and flossing have always been the “standard of care”. As a child, you may have been scolded for getting a cavity and were told that you need to brush and floss better. But what about those who have been diligent with their flossing and brushing and are still getting cavities? What are they doing wrong? Maybe nothing! However, there are things you can incorporate into your daily dental routine that can help prevent cavities.
Brushing and flossing are effective in removing plaque, bacteria, and helping the gums stay clean and healthy. It is still something that we recommend and emphasize to our patients to do every day. Dentistry has come a long way, and we now know that brushing and flossing is not the ONLY way to help prevent cavities. Cavities are caused by different types of bacteria and acid that is exposed in the mouth, below is a list of different ways to help combat them.
Tips for a Healthier Mouth:
- Brushing with baking soda- Baking soda helps neutralize the acid in the mouth. It is one of the least abrasive things you can brush with. Plus, it is a natural tooth whitener and it will keep your breath a little fresher! Bonus! All you need to do is just wet your toothbrush, place toothpaste on your toothbrush (this is optional), dip your toothbrush into some baking soda, and then brush for 2 minutes.
- Fluoride- Fluoride is great in strengthening the enamel and root surfaces of the teeth to make them stronger. Although most over-the-counter toothpaste has fluoride and there is fluoride in the water (depending on where you live), we recommend fluoride varnish treatments at least 2x/year. A higher concentration of fluoride helps prevent cavities by making the teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. If one is at a higher decay rate and gets cavities more frequently or as a preventive measure, we also recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste that can be used daily when brushing. Some dentists may have it in their office so you can purchase right there and you won’t have to pick it up at your pharmacy. To read more about fluoride, click here: Fluoride- American Dental Association
- Xylitol- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener which is an ingredient that can be found in many forms, such as gum and or candy. Xylitol can help stimulate saliva and also attack the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. We like to recommend the candy form over the gum form. The ideal amount of Xylitol should be 5 grams a day. However, you want to start off very slow because Xylitol can cause upset stomachs, such as bloating or gas. Yes, we are encouraging eating Xylitol candy!
- Last but not least, brushing and flossing. This overall helps your gum health, but it is important to remove the plaque and bacteria that sit on your teeth all day. The bacteria produce acid, and acid is what causes cavities, so removing this will in turn help. Brush 2x/day (2 minutes each time) and floss 1x/day. For some flossing tips, check out our infographic here: The Importance of Flossing
Incorporating all or most of these steps into your normal routine regimen can help keep cavities at bay. If you have any questions about your dental routine at home and are possibly concerned about your high decay rate, talk to your dentist or your hygienist about what you can do in order to achieve a healthier mouth.
Fluoride in the water is most beneficial for developing teeth. That’s right, if you’re an adult, that fluoride water won’t help you much.