What you can do to prevent tooth decay
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste and floss daily to help remove the plaque from the surface of your teeth, between your teeth and under your gums.
- Visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth professionally cleaned and checked. Your dentist will scrape off plaque and tartar and help spot other dental problems early.
- Avoid eating foods that are high in sugar and other carbohydrates (candies, bread, pasta). Bacteria feed on these types of food, and this can speed up the rate of tooth decay.
- Cut down on your consumption of foods that cling to your teeth for a long time, such as milk, ice cream, honey, table sugar, soda, raisins and other dried fruit, cake, cookies, hard candy, dry cereal and chips, are more likely to cause decay than are foods that are easily washed away by saliva. Brush your teeth soon after eating sticky foods.
- Drink fluoridated water. Also talk to your dentist about use of supplemental fluoride which strengthens your teeth.
- Refrain from smoking which can lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which has an important role in preventing tooth decay. Saliva washes away food and plaque from your teeth, and also limits bacterial growth as well as neutralizes acids in your mouth.
- Cut back on acidic foods (citric fruits such as lemon and lime) and carbonated drinks which can lead to acid erosion of the protective enamel and the wearing down of tooth structure. Using alkaline (baking soda) toothpastes and chewing sugar-free gums can help by increasing your saliva flow to wash away and dilute acids on your teeth.
- How often you snack also plays an important part. If you frequently snack or sip sodas, acid has more time to attack your teeth and wear them down.