How Do You Prevent Cavities?

Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2017

Ask the experts

How do you prevent cavities in your teeth?

Doctor's response

The number of cavities can be reduced by proper nutrition, good oral hygiene, fewer snacks in between meals, the use of oral or topical fluorides, and topical sealants.

  1. Nutritional counseling - consuming less simple sugar (sucrose or table sugar) will reduce the number of acid- producing bacteria in the mouth. Adequate dietary calcium, phosphorous, vitamins A, D, and C promote healthy and strong enamel formation.
  2. Home oral hygiene - brushing your teeth frequently helps reduce acid plaque damage to enamel, while frequent flossing removes the acid plaque from the smooth surfaces between teeth. If one cannot brush and floss immediately after a meal, he/she should try chewing self-cleaning foods at the end of the meal. These include apples and celery that are crunchy and help sweep away food debris and plaque. Chewing sugarless gum for a few minutes at the end of a meal can also help.
  3. Eating fewer snacks in between meals - every snack is followed by an "acid attack" on the teeth. Therefore, snacking all day causes the teeth to be bathed in acid continuously. Fewer snacks and eating desserts only with meals help to reduce the number of "acid attacks" on teeth.
  4. Fluorides - oral fluorides (fluoride tablets or fluoridated water) strengthen the developing enamel and dentin layers of children's teeth before they erupt. Topical fluorides fill in the pores of immature enamel or small early cavities and reduce cavities in already erupted teeth. Topical fluorides are usually painted on by the dentist, and later supplemented at home with topical fluoride gels.
  5. Sealants - sealants are plastic coatings painted on the pits and fissures of chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and bicuspids), and are highly effective in preventing cavities. Sealants are recommended for all permanent molars in children. They are also used to reduce cavities in baby teeth and in adult teeth that are cavity prone. The procedure is simple and painless, and no anesthesia is required.

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