How to Combat Cavities and Tooth Decay: Six Great Tips

home Blog How to Combat Cavities and Tooth Decay: Six Great Tips

“Well, looks like you’ve got a few cavities.”  This is the last thing you want to hear when you’re getting your regular dental checkup.  We want to pop in, get a professional cleaning, and walk out knowing that our teeth and in great condition.  Cavities are one of the biggest challenges to oral health, so let’s look into what they are and how to combat them with your diet and regular oral health regimen.

Cavity Basics, courtesy of The Bondi Dentists:

First of all, what are cavities and how are they caused?

A cavity is a hole in the enamel of the teeth.  The enamel is a hard protective layer on the outside of the teeth.  Healthy enamel keeps your teeth white and strong, and helps to prevent decay and discolouration.  Cavities are most commonly caused by bacteria on the surface of the teeth.  These bacteria break down sugar and create acid which attacks the enamel, thinning it and sometimes breaking through to the dentin layer beneath.  These same bacteria are responsible for plaque, a sticky film on the teeth that contains a high acid content and demineralises the outer surface, creating tiny holes.

What can I do about cavities at home?

There are two key factors to cavity prevention.  The first is reducing the wear and tear that your teeth go through due to acids.  The second is remineralising the teeth.  The enamel can be build back up even after it thins if you catch it before it’s gone too far.  The biggest thing to remember is that once a cavity has formed, you won’t be able to take care of it at home.  At this point, you’ll need to go the extra mile and book an appointment for restorative and possible cosmetic dentistry.  The good news is that you can do plenty from home to prevent this from happening.

One of the biggest means of prevention is dietary.  According to studies that go back to the 1930s, children with enough vitamin D in their diets are less likely to develop cavities. It’s also important to have plenty of calcium in your diet, as this helps to increase the calcium content in your bones and teeth.  This is only part of the picture, though.  In those landmark studies, it was also found that you get best results by removing grains from the diet.  One possible reason for this is that grains tend to stick to the teeth, making it easier for bacteria to form and weaken the enamel.

Here are the other main cavity risk factors:

1. Inadequate oral hygiene

This one can’t be stressed enough.  The #1 way to combat cavities and tooth decay is to brush, floss, and rinse regularly and properly.

2. Foods with high sugar content

Sugary foods encourage the growth of bacteria and increase the amount of acid regularly attacking your enamel.

3. Foods that stick to your teeth.

Just like sugary foods, sticky foods tend to leave a residue on the teeth that is perfect for bacterial growth.  After sticky snacks, make sure to rinse the mouth thoroughly.

4. Dry mouth

Saliva contains loads of enzymes that combat the growth of bacteria and help to keep the mouth healthy.  Regular dry mouth means that your fist line of defence is weakened.

5. Heartburn

Heartburn is connected with a high acid content in the stomach, and often this acid ends up in the mouth as well.

Best Home-Based Prevention Tips:

1. Sugar-free gum

This is a top tip from The Bondi Dentists.  It’s easy to make sugar-free gum a part of your daily regimen, and it offers loads of benefits to help your teeth remain healthy and cavity free.  The first benefit is saliva production.  Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates the salivary glands and helps your mouth to naturally fight off plaque and cavity-causing bacteria.  Also, you can look for gum with xylitol or CPP-ACP.  Both are shown to help remineralise enamel, lower the acidity of plaque, and combat the bacteria responsible for cavities and tooth decay. We stock Recaldent Gum at our practice, we believe it is the best in the market as it has remineralising agents. 

2. Vitamin D and Calcium

Your enamel is composed mainly of calcium and phosphate.  By having enough calcium in your diet, you give your body the raw materials it needs to build strong bones and strengthen your enamel.  Vitamin D is just as essential since it helps you to absorb calcium and phosphate from the foods you eat.  Dairy products are a great source of both calcium and Vitamin D, and you can also get Vitamin D from spending a bit of time in the sun.  Bet you didn’t know that your beach days are also helping to keep your teeth healthy!

3. Fluoride Toothpaste!

This one should be no surprise.  Fluoride toothpaste is one of the best known and most time-honoured methods for cavity prevention.  It’s also helpful in remineralising the teeth.  Make sure to brush twice daily, and to brush properly.  To go the extra mile, you can find plenty of fluoride-containing rinses on the market as well.

4. Either eliminate sugary foods or reduce your intake as much as possible.

We all love our sweets.  So, it’s no fun hearing that we might have to cut our snacks out of our diet.  But, as with anything, moderation is the key.  The World Health Organisation recommends keeping your sugar intake to no more that 10% of your daily calories to help prevent cavities.  The biggest thing you can do to reduce the impact of sugary foods on your teeth is to take a break between snacks.  Rinse the mouth well, and allow the saliva to build up to clean and remineralise teeth.  If you’re snacking throughout the day, you don’t give your mouth time to recover.

5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

You hear this all the time, but there is a very good reason for it. Your body from head to toe needs water and hydration, including your teeth! Water prevents your mouth from feeling dry, and a dry mouth is much more prone to getting cavities than a hydrated one. Dryness is also a factor with regards to how badly foodstuff can stick to our teeth, contributing to tooth decay risk. It doesn’t matter if your glass is half-empty or half-full: Drinking water is a must for your dental and overall health.

6. Liquorice

Ok, unfortunately, the classic sugar-filled liquorice candy is going to be counterproductive.  But compounds in liquorice root can help to combat the bacteria responsible for plaque and cavities.  If you want to go this route, look for sugar-free liquorice candies with extracts from the Chinese liquorice plant, also known as Glycyrrhiza uralensis.

Even with the best oral care regimen, it’s important to have regular dental checkups.  Since many problems can develop without pain or other symptoms, your dentist can help you to head off challenges early and keep your teeth as healthy as they can be.

If you want to know about keeping your teeth healthy, or you want to talk about your next regular checkup, feel free to contact us.  At Bondi Dentists, we’re dedicated to helping you have a bright, white, healthy smile, now and for the years to come.