One of the most alarming stats in the dental world is that out of a group of 10 people, at least eight of them will get a cavity by their 34th birthday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That means that if you aren’t already prioritizing your dental care, now’s a great time to start. A good way you can do that is to understand just how your eating habits can increase your risk for cavities.
At 21st Century Dentistry, we’re here for our patients, and we want to make things as clear as possible to help you maintain optimal oral health (and hopefully get no more cavities!). Follow along for information on how high-risk eating can contribute to cavities and a couple of our best cavity prevention tips. You won’t want to miss them!
Eating certain foods has a direct impact on your dental care. There are some foods that just naturally increase your cavity risk. Want to get on the path to cavity prevention? Here’s what you should know, according to a Nashville dentist.
High-risk eating is consuming foods (and drinks) with a high amount of sugar. Having too much added sugar can significantly increase your risk for cavities.
Experts say that women are recommended to keep their added sugar to no more than 24 grams per day (i.e., six teaspoons). Men are recommended to have no more than 36 grams of added sugar (i.e., nine teaspoons) per day.
Like we mentioned above, sugar can cause cavities–but how exactly? Well, let’s talk about this. As the American Dental Association (ADA) puts it, “When you do not remove plaque from your teeth every day, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use sugar to make acid that attacks enamel, the hard surface of the tooth.” This goes on for as much as 20 minutes after eating or drinking something sweet.
If you continue to have a lot of sugar during the day, it impacts the enamel multiple times over, which can lead to an increased chance of decayed teeth. That means that limiting your added sugar intake is key to helping prevent cavities.
In addition to sweets (candy, cake, cookies, etc.), starches can negatively impact your oral health if you don’t keep up with brushing. Also, some foods that naturally have acid (think: tomatoes and oranges) may wear down the enamel (that’s why it’s important to have them alongside something else).
Some other foods that can hurt your teeth include dried fruits, which are sticky and increase the amount of acids in the mouth.
While cavities can happen to the best of us, you’ll be glad to know there are some things you can do. Here are some of our top cavity prevention tips:
- Brush your teeth morning and night. Put your timer on for two minutes, and get to brushing. This is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. You’ll want to clean all the outside surfaces of your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste for the best cavity prevention. Make sure not to forget the back molars, which can be hard to reach.
- Brush your teeth 30 to 60 minutes after having something sweet to eat or drink. A common misconception is that it’s best to brush right after having sweets. However, that’s not the case. In fact, waiting at least a half-hour can ensure that you get a larger amount of sugar off your teeth.
- Floss once a day. This is an important part of your daily dental care regimen. You can use either string floss or a flosser pick. Both options can be found easily at your local grocery store.
- Use mouthwash. Get an ADA-approved, cavity-prevention mouthwash to give your teeth extra protection against cavities. It’s best to use mouthwash after brushing (twice per day).
- Get a new toothbrush every quarter. If your toothbrush is frayed or is simply not working as well as it once did, upgrade your toothbrush now. Otherwise, have a few backups in your toiletry cupboard to replace your toothbrush at the three to four-month mark.
- Consume sweets in moderation. Instead of having sweetened coffee and an iced cinnamon roll from your local coffee shop every day, have it once a week instead, and opt for sugar-free versions whenever you can. It’s okay to have treats every now and then, but having them on a special occasion can make the experience that much sweeter (and keep your teeth safer).
- Try to keep your snacks to a minimum. Having chips, crackers, and similar foods for snacks can increase your risk for tooth decay. If you get hungry between meals, keep a handful of nuts and string cheese on standby. (Dairy is rich in calcium, which helps build up your teeth’s enamel and helps you avoid cavities.)
- Have plenty of water. This is one of our best tips on how to prevent tooth decay naturally. First, there isn’t any sugar in water, which means that the bacteria in your mouth won’t have anything to feed on. Also, water can help decrease the effects of acid in the mouth, which protects your enamel. It also often contains fluoride, which has been proven to be effective in the battle against cavities.
Now that you see how your diet can help with cavity prevention, don’t forget to schedule a dental cleaning. Regular dentist visits can help you keep tabs on your dental health and ensure that any sneaky cavities or signs of decay are caught early on and treated.
Have you scheduled your biannual dental visit yet? 21st Century Dentistry would love to see you. Call (615) 560-7382 today, or contact us online to book a cleaning with a “dentist near me.”