The best way to combat cavities is to follow three simple steps:
1. Cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it’s these sugary and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk.
2. Brush after every meal and floss daily. Cavities most often begin in hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits, the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth and on the top of your tongue.
Be sure the bristles are firm, not bent, and replace the toothbrush after a few weeks to safeguard against reinfecting your mouth with old bacteria than can collect on the brush. Only buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride (antiseptic rinses also help remove plaque) and that bear the American Dental Association seal of acceptance logo on the package. Children under six should only use a small pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush and should spit out as much as possible because a child’s developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Finally, because caries is a transmittable disease, toothbrushes should never be shared, especially with your children.
3. See your dentist at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because cavities can be difficult to detect a thorough dental examination is very important. If you get a painful toothache, if your teeth are very sensitive to hot or cold foods, or if you notice signs of decay like white spots, tooth discolorations or cavities, make an appointment right away.
The longer you wait to treat infected teeth the more intensive and lengthy the treatment will be. Left neglected, cavities can lead to root canal infection, permanent deterioration of decayed tooth substance and even loss of the tooth itself.