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5 Ways to Prevent Cavities in the New Year!

Patients often ask me why they get cavities and what they can do to help prevent them.   Here are 5 things that can help your teeth stay healthy in 2014:

1. Cut out the acid!  Cavities are fueled by both sugar and acid.  Food and drinks such as carbonated beverages, sour candy, and even lemon and orange juices can be devastating to teeth in large amounts.  Try substituting water for soda at mealtime and rinse your mouth out with water after drinking acidic beverages when you can’t reach for a toothbrush.

2. Mouthwash isn’t just for bad breath.  Next time you pick up a mouthwash, make sure it has fluoride on the label.  Fluoride can take the place of calcium in teeth and make them less resistant to acid erosion and cavities.  When used in combination with brushing and flossing, fluoride may be able to prevent the bacteria that cause cavities from eroding teeth.

3. Get the right gum.  Look for sugar free gum that contains xylitol.  While it’s not always realistic to brush and floss after every meal, it’s very easy to keep a small pack of gum in your pocket or purse.  Xylitol is a sugar that cavity causing bacteria can’t metabolize and therefore can’t use to grow.  Food stuck in the crevices of teeth after a meal is often easily worked out by gum, and of course it’s always nice to have great breath!

4. Floss daily.  Flossing is just as important as brushing in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.  Cavities that form between teeth most often start just below the point where neighboring teeth touch each other (a great place for floss to reach).  As a dentist, I see most cavities start between teeth in places where a toothbrush can’t reach.  Finally, flossing can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath and prevent gum disease and loss of teeth, so it’s a great thing to start if you aren’t doing it already!

5. Set up a routine.  I think the biggest thing to any kind of change (whether a New Year’s resolution or something else) is setting up a routine.  If I miss going to the gym for a week I start to get complacent and feel less apt to go.  For your teeth it’s the same.  Patients will ask me if it’s better to floss at night or in the morning.  While it’s great to have your teeth clean for a full 5-8 hours, if you’re one that is often too tired to floss then the morning may be right for you.  It can take at least 6 weeks to establish a routine, so stick with it and keep those teeth healthy!  

– from Dr. Jernberg

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