Your daily lifestyle habits and the foods you eat affect both your overall health and the state of your teeth and gums. If you are someone who avoids going to the dentist because it seems you're always hearing you have one or more cavities, it likely causes you frustration. While some people are more genetically prone to developing tooth decay, the condition of your teeth is most likely a direct result of your daily oral hygiene routine and the foods and drinks you most often consume.
If your teeth are prone to tooth decay, these tips will help to reduce the potential of cavities at your next dental exam.
Establish a Diet That's Healthy For Your Teeth
Making a conscious effort to eat healthier is a great place to take better care of your teeth and gums. Not only do foods high in nutrients help to fuel your body with what it needs to run smoothly, but a healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy smile. Ensure you're eating a healthy and balanced diet by incorporating these healthy foods:
Raw Vegetables. Raw vegetables are packed full of nutrients that you can't get anywhere else. Vegetables are the perfect snack option, and they also work as a natural toothbrush by removing bacteria from your teeth before they can affect your enamel.
Fresh Fruits. Raw fruits hold healthy nutrients that make for the perfect, natural snack when your sweet tooth hits. We recommend staying away from dried fruits because they easily stick to your teeth, cause cavities, and are often just as damaging as a piece of candy.
Water. Water is the best thing you can drink for your overall health. By drinking water throughout the day instead of a soda or juice, you're rinsing food particles from your teeth and also keeping your body hydrated. Drinking water will help make you feel more aware and awake, even during the dreaded afternoon stretch.
Dairy. Dairy products include phosphorus, calcium, and other enamel-strengthening nutrients. Plain yogurt and cheese can help balance the mouth's pH levels, neutralizing acids, and help to prevent enamel wear.
Avoid These Damaging Diets
The snack and drink choices you make daily can quickly wreak havoc on your teeth if you're consuming these top offenders too often:
Sugar. One of the best places to start when looking to live a healthier lifestyle is to become aware of just how much sugar you're consuming daily. Sugar is a top offender when it comes to whole-body health. Overindulging and overeating sugar will quickly lead to cavities, obesity, and diabetes. The sugar you consume should only provide 5% of your daily energy, meaning you should be consuming no more than 25 grams of sugar a day. We recommend checking labels on foods before consuming them. You may be surprised to learn that your morning yogurt has your daily limit of sugar or a protein bar has as much sugar as a candy bar.
Drinks. Your tooth enamel is porous, and when you drink dark-colored liquids, the staining compounds enter your enamel and linger. Over time, frequent drinking causes these stains to build up and cause discoloration. Drinking dark-colored liquids high in sugar is even more damaging to your teeth and leaves them coated in sugar with every sip.
Acidic Foods and Beverages. Your tooth enamel's job is to protect the inner layers of your teeth. When it wears away, it's easier for cavities to form and damage the sensitive dentin. Acidic snacks lower your mouth's pH levels, giving acid from foods and drinks free reign to erode your enamel. Steer clear of things like coffee, soda, and citrus fruits and juices when possible.
Improve Your Oral Hygiene Routine
If you find yourself being diagnosed with cavities tooth decay at your routine dental cleanings and exams, try the following to level up your brushing:
- Improve Your Brushing Technique - Make sure to brush the outward-facing, tongue-facing, and chewing surfaces of each tooth, and give extra attention to your molars because they have more cracks and fissures.
- Use a Fluoride Toothpaste - Fluoride toothpaste is helpful for those with sensitive teeth who need extra help in fighting cavities.
- Invest in a New Toothbrush - You should be using a new toothbrush every three months because bacteria build up on toothbrush bristles over time. Old toothbrushes can do more harm than good. Make sure you're using a soft-bristled toothbrush to help protect your gums.
- Floss Every Day - Get in a flossing habit that you can do every day to help establish a routine.
- Incorporate a Mouth Rinse - For some patients, using a mouth rinse regularly helps to improve bad breath and also kills harmful plaque causing bacteria that leads to cavities and decay.
Identify Harmful Habits that Cause Tooth Decay
Consider these risk factors to learn more about how seemingly innocuous habits might be leading to cavities.
- Snacking or sipping often
- Certain foods and drinks
- Grinding your teeth
- Not getting enough fluoride
- Dry mouth
Talk to Your Dentist
Your dentist knows better than anyone why you have frequent cavities. At your next exam, ask about areas of your mouth that have plaque buildup and which areas can improve with your oral hygiene routine. Explain your current oral hygiene tools and habits by your dentist and hygenist at your next cleaning and exam so we can help you find where your routine may be lacking and where you can improve. Contact Tompkins Dental today to schedule your next cleaning and exam.