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How can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
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The number one way to prevent tooth decay is by exercising good oral hygiene habits. Tooth decay occurs when harmful bacteria build up on the teeth and form layers of plaque, which in turn attacks the enamel on the teeth. There are numerous ways to prevent tooth decay, and everyone can develop better oral hygiene habits beginning with simple steps.

Brushing your teeth is a necessary part of preventing tooth decay. Adults should brush at least twice each day – in the morning and at night before bed. Children should also brush regularly, preferably in the morning and before bed, as well as between meals. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay and keeps your teeth looking nice.

Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every six months at the least. For children’s teeth, use soft bristled toothbrushes that are the right size for their mouth and teeth. Always brush teeth in a circular motion and pay attention to all sides of the teeth. Also, remember to brush your tongue and gums, as this helps remove any bacteria that may be resting there. Regular brushing is the best way to prevent the plaque build-up that causes tooth decay.

In addition to brushing, flossing between the teeth should become a regular part of anyone’s oral hygiene regimen. Flossing with either dental floss or dental picks helps to remove bacteria from between the teeth that the bristles of your toothbrush may not reach. Dentists recommend flossing each time your brush, but many would settle for a simple once-a-day commitment.

You can also help prevent tooth decay by reducing the amount of sugary foods in your diet. Candy, sweets, and foods high in sugar and starch contribute heavily to the build up of plaque. Reducing the amount of candy and sweets you eat, and always brushing after eating them, can prove very helpful in preventing tooth decay. You should also make it a habit for you and your children to only chew sugar-free gum.

Experts also recommend a dental check up twice annually. However, many people neglect to visit the dentist due to lack of dental insurance, fear of dentists, or lack of accessibility. While adults might get by with less frequent visits, children should see a dentist for an oral check up and routine cleaning at least once, if not twice, each year. If you are without dental insurance, check with your local health department for assistance or referrals to dentists who are working with them to provide dental care at reduced rates.

A dentist can examine your mouth and determine whether you have any problems with your teeth or gums that need to be addressed to prevent tooth decay and extend the life of your natural teeth. For certain people, a dentist might recommend a tooth sealant, especially for people whose mouths produce an excess of bacteria. A dentist can not only help you prevent tooth decay, but can also address other concerns, such as gum disease, abscessed teeth, and other conditions or diseases of the mouth.

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Discussion Comments
By anon107916 — On Sep 01, 2010

Chewing gum with xylitol (a good sugar) coats the teeth and does not allow plaque to form on the teeth, according to a study performed by dentists.

By jabuka — On Jun 20, 2008

It is very important to keep the mouth healthy. Decaying teeth and gum disease can cause inflammation in the body, hardening of arteries and heart disease. So keep on brushing not only to keep healthy teeth, but also for general health.

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