Nobody gets tooth decay overnight. It’s a gradual process, a wearing away of enamel until damage is done. For the uninitiated, the first signs might not be apparent. In kids, the problem begins with white, chalky marks that form around the gum line. Over time, they can turn into soft, brown spots that slowly creeps towards the chewing area. And without proper intervention, they can lead to a bevy of complications, which include gum disease, infection disease, and the like. How, then, can you stop tooth decay from spreading? And how do you prevent tooth decay in the first place?
The key, as it turns out, is to stop it in its tracks. Oral bacteria is the prime suspect when it comes to tooth decay, so limiting its numbers and what it can do helps nip the damage in the bud. Moreover, when done early on, it might be able to reverse the process altogether.
But how, exactly? Here’s what you can do to prevent tooth decay:
Brush your teeth regularly
When your oral bacteria overrun your teeth, you’re more likely to get tooth decay. S. mutans—the bacteria which primarily drive tooth decay—isn’t so good at colonizing teeth surfaces on its own. There must be enough sugar for it to feed on to make it potent. When you brush your teeth regularly, two things happen. For one, you scrub away the bacterial build-up from your teeth, which delays S. mutans’ progress. For another, you help clean away any lingering sugars that can fuel it.
Moral of the story? Brush your teeth twice a day. Especially after you eat.
Floss before you brush
Of course, there are ways to make your tooth-brushing habit all-the-more powerful. In this case, it’s flossing before you brush. Sometimes, bacteria and food can build up between your teeth. And these crevices are hard to reach with a toothbrush. By flossing before you brush, you loosen up this icky build-up, making it easier to remove once you brush.
Say no to sugary snacks
As mentioned earlier, the decay-causing S. mutans can only wreak havoc if it has the fuel to do so. When you regularly eat sugary snacks, you continuously feed the oral bacteria and give it ammunition for acid attacks. If you do find yourself with a sugar craving, however, try having it after a meal—your saliva flow will help wash away most of it.
Eat tooth-healthy food
Aside from scouring off what causes the decay, another way to prevent tooth decay is to strengthen your teeth’s defenses. How so, you may ask? Simple: watch the food you eat. Fortunately, there’s a plethora of healthy food for teeth ready for eating. Want to be more creative? Mix them up in some fun and tasty recipes.
Go to your regular dental appointment
Sure, most of the battle against tooth decay is done at home, but there are ways to bolster your defenses. Part of that is showing up at your regular dental appointment. Your dentist won’t just fix up any tooth decay-related problems. They can also give suggestions on keeping your teeth as healthy as possible. When you come back six months later, they can also track your process, making sure that you’re on your way to dental health.