Preventing and Diagnosing Cavities: Dental Care Tips to Know
If you’re like most people, you probably know that maintaining your oral health is integral to your overall well-being. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing everything you can to take care of your teeth. Tooth decay is a common problem for both children and adults — and if you don’t keep up with your dental care, you could soon have cavities developing.
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are actually holes in the teeth. And although most patients develop cavities at one point or another throughout their lives, it’s best to do everything you can to avoid them. At the very least, you should learn to recognize the signs of cavities so you can seek out dental care as soon as possible. In some cases, burgeoning cavities can actually be reversed if action is taken quickly enough. But even if that isn’t possible, you’ll still want to seek out treatment from local dentists early on to avoid other complications.
With that in mind, let’s delve into some tips for the prevention and identification of cavities.
Dental Care Tips to Prevent Cavities
- Visit Your Dentist: One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is to prioritize your dental checkups. You should aim to have an appointment with your dentist every six months, as this can help catch cavities early on. Your dentist may also help you avoid cavities entirely with thorough cleanings, fluoride, sealants, and other treatments. If you don’t see your dentist regularly, you might not notice you have a cavity forming until you experience some kind of discomfort — and by then, your dentist will likely need to remove the cavity and fill the affected tooth.
- Brush and Floss as Directed: One in 10 people admittedly forget to brush their teeth on a regular basis. But brushing and flossing can help you stop cavities in their tracks. Use a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush in the morning, at night, and after meals to remove food debris and bacteria. Be sure to use dental floss daily (and as needed between meals) and try an antimicrobial mouthwash, as well. Toothpaste enriched with fluoride can also help to keep cavities at bay. Be careful not to brush too hard and to replace your toothbrush or brush head every three months or so. If you stick to this routine, you’ll have a much better chance of preventing cavities.
- Watch What You Eat and Drink: Although you don’t have to completely eliminate anything from your diet for the sake of your dental care, it may benefit you to limit your consumption of certain foods or drinks. In general, it’s a good idea to cut back on sugary and acidic drinks, such as soda, juice, energy drinks, and coffee. If you do consume these beverages, try to stick to once a day within a relatively short period and brush your teeth afterward. Drinking water, especially with added fluoride, can be a great way to protect your teeth from decay while promoting increased hydration. Snacking throughout the day isn’t recommended, as this can cause food debris and bacteria to remain on your teeth for hours. But whether you snack on chips or on fresh fruit, you should always brush after eating. Keep in mind that certain produce, like apples and carrots, can actually help clear away food particles — so if you don’t have a toothbrush on-hand, you can end your meal with these for improved oral health.
Signs You May Already Have a Cavity
Even if you try to follow the aforementioned tips precisely, you could still end up getting a cavity — especially if you smoke or have another health condition like heartburn. But whether you’ve done everything right or your dental care has fallen by the wayside, you should know how to recognize the signs of a possible cavity. They include:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Discomfort or pain
- Foul breath
- Discoloration dark spots
- Cracked teeth or holes
The truth is that no one wants to deal with having a cavity. But the longer you prolong your dental care, the worse the problem could become. Without treatment, a cavity can cause the tooth to become infected. This can lead to a tooth abscess, which can be both painful and potentially dangerous. You might also experience extreme pain that interferes with your ability to eat, drink, talk, and engage in other daily activities.
By seeking out treatment from a qualified dentist as soon as possible, you’ll be able to avoid substantial pain and misery. And by potentially preventing cavities before they develop, you’ll save money and protect your well-being.