Watch out for the dental tooth cavity epidemic!

Updated August 19, 2016

People nowadays are so busy, much busier than their counterparts from twenty years ago. Most families have two working parents, kids that go to daycare, children in public school, and a family pet or two. Plus there are all the activities that the kids have after school such as piano lessons, soccer practice, or any other type of sports practice. Then you have the recitals and games to attend. When is there any time left to go to the dentist?

(Photo Credit: John Dill via Flicker)

There are a lot of people out there who are afraid of the dentist. Some are scared of the tools that are used for certain procedures, while others are more afraid of the costs that can accrue. Some people are just bad at making, and keeping, appointments, and some haven't been in so long that they're embarrassed to go.

The truth is you have nothing to be scared of. In fact, you should be seeing the dentist now more than ever.

Cavities can be avoided

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91% of adults ages 20–64 have a cavity, and on top of that, 27% of Americans have an untreated cavity or decay. There are so many cavities, and it isn’t necessary! We need to educate ourselves—and our children—in how cavities can be prevented, and make sure that any existing cavities get the attention they need!

What is a cavity? Why do we acquire them? A cavity is essentially a hole in your tooth. When sugar is eaten, or sugary drinks are ingested, that sugar sticks to your teeth. You also have bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria love to eat sugar, so the bacteria attaches itself to your teeth and creates an acid which is what actually breaks down the enamel of your tooth to cause a cavity. The longer you let the hole go, the larger and deeper it becomes. When the cavity has gotten deep enough to hit the nerves in your teeth, you start to feel pain, and that is usually when you know you need to make a trip to the dentist.

How can you prevent cavities? That is a fantastic question, and we will show you how to do just that. Here are a few active steps you can start taking today.

Brush and floss daily

Brush your teeth twice a day! Once in the morning when you get up to remove any bacteria or other “gunk” that may have attached itself to your teeth overnight. Then brush your teeth again at night before you go to bed. This removes all the plaque, food particles, and bacteria that have adhered to your teeth and enamel over the course of the day. It is critical to the health of your teeth and oral structures to get into a routine of brushing daily. Once you perform a task daily for a week, you start to incorporate it into your daily life without thinking about it, and it becomes like second nature.

Some people do not floss for a variety of reasons, but it really is an excellent way to prevent cavities from forming. Flossing takes too much time according to some, while others just do not like the way it feels. If you don’t floss regularly, the reason it may be taking more time is because of all the build-up you have between your teeth. It takes time to remove the plaque that has invaded the cracks in between your teeth where bacteria have made a home. Once you remove the initial build-up and start to floss daily, you will notice that you are not spending very much time at all on the simple task.

If you do not like the way the flossing feels, it may because you are not holding the dental string correctly or are going too high up into your gums which can cause both pain and bleeding. There are a couple of other products on the market you could try which you may like better. One option is individual and disposable flossers. You hold the handle rather than the string and slip the device between each tooth and then throw it away. The other option is a dental device called Stim-U-Dent when is a wooden pick that you place in between your teeth at the gum line to remove plaque and germs. It is easier to hold onto and gets the job done just as well!

It’s important that you don’t think that brushing is going to do it alone. You need to actively incorporate flossing into your daily routine in order to successfully prevent cavities. You can talk to your dentist about the way to properly floss if you have forgotten, or never learned. 

Also, be sure that you are brushing for the appropriate amount of time. Some people will quickly brush and assume that their teeth are clean. The rule of thumb has always been two minutes. One great practice: start brushing your teeth when a song on the radio starts to play, and then stop when it’s over. Brush your teeth lightly. Remember you don’t have to scrub them hard! 

Stay away from sugary foods and sipping flavored beverages

When we snack all day long and sip on our drinks instead of taking them all in at once, we end up allowing acids to form and eat away at our enamel. This means our mouth has to work harder to fight against this. The best way to combat this is to eat meals and snacks, and drink our flavored beverages in one sitting. And remember, most public water sources like tap water from your home will have fluoride in it. Bottled water won’t have that nice addition. So if you feel like sipping on something, try tap water.

Make your visits to the dentist

Many people prefer to make two visits a year, while others go only when they have a pain or emergency. However, if you want to prevent cavities and save yourself a lot of money in the long run, you should visit your dentist at least once a year.

The most important thing to remember is that there is nothing to be afraid of. When you visit your dentist you can discuss any fears you have whether they be procedures, finances, or other concerns that have prevented you from coming in the past.

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