A beautiful smile can brighten your day—mentally and physically.  Mentally, smiling can change your mood and make your day better.  Physically, it can make you appear more attractive to others.  Unfortunately, there are many who don’t take advantage of the benefits of an open smile due to imperfections with their teeth.  Fortunately, some of these imperfections can be prevented—such as tooth decay.  As the saying goes, it is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent.  Below are tips to prevent cavities so that you can better maintain your smile for years to come.

Change Your Diet

Improvements with your teeth start with the certain types of food you eat.  Steer clear from sugary food.  Avoid food with high fructose corn syrup or high sugar content.  An overload of sweet snacks and desserts can cause extreme blood sugar fluctuations.  Such fluctuations cause essential minerals that keep our teeth healthy (calcium and phosphorous) to be removed from the teeth.  Foods that stick to your teeth such as peanut butter and caramel should also be avoided. Sticky foods provide bacteria with a food source to create enamel eating acid.

Instead, consume food that will not only do your body good, but your teeth good.  Foods rich in calcium, like milk, cheese, and yogurt are ideal examples.

However, if you cannot help but submit yourself to that double fudge brownie drizzled with chocolate syrup, make sure to rinse your mouth with water, or even better brush your teeth, after consumption to help get rid of any food particles remaining.

Change Your Daily Routine

If you haven’t been brushing your teeth at least twice a day, now you should.  Brushing your teeth helps get rid of plaque and prevents bacteria’s production of acid.  Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to ensure a healthier mouth.  Fluoride toothpaste helps strengthen the tooth enamel making it more resistant to acid.

Floss your teeth daily.  Flossing can better clean out the plaque and food particles stuck between the teeth than brushing can.  Thus, flossing could greatly lower the chances of getting cavities.

If you have changed your daily teeth cleaning routine and don’t see any improvements, your toothbrush may be the problem.  Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months.  Using an old toothbrush can do more harm than good.  Often times, old toothbrushes have worn down bristles and are filled with bacteria.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

Sometimes dental problems are not detected by the average person until there are significant amounts of damage.  Dentists, with their specialized equipment, can better identify any problems with the teeth before major damage is done.  Dentists can detect places in the mouth that we miss while brushing.  Thus, professional tooth cleaning and regular mouth checkups are great preventive measures.

Alongside detecting problems that we may not be able to detect alone, dentists can also provide services that enhance the health of our teeth.  Dentists can provide dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and anti-bacterial treatments.  The most notable is dental sealants.  Dental sealants act as a protective covering on the surface of the molars.  These sealants shield the tooth enamel from acid and plaque.

Nothing is fool proof, but with the preventative measures available, the fight against tooth decay is becoming a much easier battle.  By taking the preventive tips mentioned, you can greatly increase your chances of a healthy, bright smile.

Dr. Charles Tozzer is an Orange County dentist practicing in Irvine, California. His office, Tozzer Dental, specializes in sedation and family dentistry.

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