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Best Practices for Preventing Tooth Decay

Man with healthy smile

Preventing tooth decay is a joint effort between you, your dentist and your hygienist. Tooth decay is a common issue that can result from a number of external factors—with the lack of an active prevention plan somewhere near the top.

Even with proper preventative techniques in place, lifestyle adjustments may need to be made to combat certain medical conditions, genetic history and medicinal side effects that can all have an effect on the rate and intensity of tooth decay.

Read on to discover the most common reasons tooth decay arises, in addition to the best ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is caused by the wear and tear that takes place on the enamel over time. It can become a major threat to overall oral health if left untreated. The process is ongoing and occurs in response to a number of catalysts, including the consumption of a seemingly innocent meal or drink.

Oral bacteria feeds on carbohydrates and sugar that produce harmful acids that erode away a tooth’s enamel, leaving weak spots in their wake, otherwise known as cavities. Not only does tooth decay lead to further oral problems, such as periodontal disease, infections or abscesses and damaged pulp, but the open nerve endings that are left exposed from decay can bring on extreme pain and discomfort.

Here are some of the most prevalent causes of tooth decay in both children and adults:

  • Minimal fluoride exposure
  • Poor or average oral hygiene practices
  • Fissures or deep pits on surfaces of teeth
  • Sensitive or exposed root surfaces
  • Medical conditions
  • Medicinal side effects
  • Genetic history of tooth decay

How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay in the Future?

There are several methods for tooth decay prevention and reparation to keep your smile healthy and long-lasting. Listed below are protective techniques that are available to you at your Woodbury Dentist office.

1. Fluoride

The most effective method for fighting against tooth decay is through use of fluoride treatments, which help to nourish damaged enamel from the mineral loss that ensues. The preexisting presence of fluoride in general supplies of food and water can’t be solely relied on to decrease the odds of tooth decay, requiring other preventative steps that incorporate fluoride to assure that your teeth are protected.

The two types of fluoride application are:

Topical Fluoride

This type of fluoride treatment works by penetrating the enamel to strengthen the tooth from the inside out, and comes in the forms of foam, gel, liquid, or varnish. Professional application can be done during routine check-ups with a brush or trey, as the fluoride calls for a short set time.

Systematic Fluoride

In addition to strengthening the affected areas of the exposed teeth, this form of fluoride also targets the portions of teeth that lie below the gum line surface. Available in drop or tablet form, systematic fluoride is an option for tooth decay prevention that can be prescribed by your Woodbury dentist.

2. Xylitol

Found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, Xylitol is a substance that can exponentially help reduce tooth decay when the recommended proportions are consumed (between 4-20 grams per day split between three or more servings).

Xylitol works by neutralizing acids and kick-starting saliva production to keep the enamel from being attacked. Since it can be tough to meet these requirements by consuming produce every day, Xylitol is available in gum form for both children and adults.

3. Sealants

Sealant is a thin coat of plastic that acts as a smoothing substance on a tooth’s surface. The majority of tooth decay begins in the deep pits or fissures that are difficult to properly clean. This method is safe for all ages, and is especially recommended for those who have proven to be cavity prone.

The application process only takes a couple minutes per tooth, and the results are capable of lasting many years with routine maintenance.

Fluoride treatments, Xylitol, and Sealants can’t stop tooth decay in its tracks alone, or erase the effects of neglected teeth and a bad diet. For this reason, it’s important to supplement the treatments with other preventative behaviors, like brushing twice each day, keeping up with flossing, maintaining a well-balanced diet, cutting back on sugary treats and scheduling regular check-ups.

For further inquiry about your options for tooth decay prevention, call to speak with your Woodbury Dentist today.