Cavity is a scary word. Ever since we were kids, we’ve been told to brush our teeth and lay off the sweets or we’d get cavities. Whether or not our parents’ scare tactics worked, even now, cavities and tooth decay can be a painful and pesky problem. How do we prevent them? Here are the five worst habits we have when it comes to cavities:
- Eating Lots of Sweets
Sugar can be devastating to your teeth. This is because the bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and, as a byproduct, produces acid. This acid dissolves tooth enamel, which weakens the tooth and can lead to cavities and tooth decay. It follows that eating lots of sweet, sugary candies and other sweet things can result in cavities and enamel erosion (and remember, enamel never grows back).
- Eating Sticky Foods
Eating foods that can stick to your teeth, just like eating sugary foods (and let’s be honest, those categories often overlap), can cause cavities. Your mouth bacteria will devour the food particles stuck to your teeth, then release the acid byproduct directly onto your teeth, where it can do the most damage. Additionally, sticky foods are harder to brush, floss, and otherwise remove from your teeth, making them even more likely to stick around in your mouth, even after brushing, causing further decay.
- Eating Between Meals
Snacking isn’t all bad, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that snacking can be good for your metabolism. It can be bad for your mouth, though, if you’re not careful. Most people brush their teeth after meals and before going to bed, but you’re less likely to brush your teeth after a snack. This can leave food residue (like sugar) in your mouth for long periods of time, providing food for bacteria to feast on, then secrete enamel-destroying acids.
- Drinking Sugary Beverages
We all know that sugary treats can cause cavities, but so can sugary drinks like sodas and juice. These beverages can be even worse for your teeth than candies and desserts because you’re even less likely to brush your teeth after downing a can of cola or a juice box than after eating a sweet with a meal.
- Drinking Bottled Water
Water, bottled or not, is nearly always a better health choice than juice, alcohol, or soda, but not all water is created equal. The truth is that many bottled waters lack the fluoride that is added to municipal water sources. As you know, fluoride is used to protect your teeth – it helps remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel, which is what protects teeth from decay. Drinking only bottled water could leave your teeth without enough exposure to fluoride to stop decay.
Each of these five habits could lead to or contribute to the formation of cavities in your teeth and, combined, could be a recipe for a whole mouthful of cavities and tooth problems. To reduce your risk of cavities, eat a sensible diet, with limited sugary foods and drinks; drink water, but not only fluoride-less bottled waters; and brush your teeth after eating to prevent food from sticking to teeth and fueling decay-causing bacteria. These things, in addition to regular dental cleanings, can help keep your teeth strong and cavity-free.
If you think you might have a cavity, call our office today! We’ll schedule an appointment and get your cavity taken care of before it gets any worse.