Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for people seeking out treatment at their dental surgery. But are tooth decay and cavities as inevitable as people think? Can we really take steps to reduce our chances of needing to have fillings?
Most UK adults probably already have a filling or two. Some unlucky people may have had several fillings over the years. It is sad to say that our attitude to having fillings is seen as a minor inconvenience of getting older and is something that happens to just about everyone.
While you may end up needing to have a tooth filled due to an accident where a tooth becomes damaged or broken, the vast majority of filling received by adults can actually be put down to cavities being caused by tooth decay.
The truth is that cavities caused by tooth decay are highly preventable. We can avoid having filling with a bit of extra care and attention with our oral hygiene and a change of our dietary habits.
Avoid sugar where you can
Sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay in the western world today. The trouble with sugar is that it is everywhere! To save the health of our teeth we can quite easily avoid consuming the most common and obvious sources of sugar from sweets, jams, chocolate spreads and sugary drinks such as cola, but it is more difficult to avoid sugar where the food manufacturer has added it to their foods to help it taste better.
Sugar is hidden in a wide variety of convenience foods – both sweet and savoury! We are unknowingly consuming more sugar than we are aware of or is good for our health. Snacking on food throughout the day also exposes our teeth to a constant stream of sugar too, even if you think you are choosing healthy snacks to eat.
Dentists recommend that to help cut down on the amount of sugar we consume, we should try to eat decent sized meals that fill us up, reduce our hunger and reduce the need to snack between meals. This will allow your saliva enough time to wash away traces of sugar from your teeth and gums between meals to help reduce the risk of developing cavities.
Proper oral hygiene routines
We all know how important it is to clean our teeth, especially after eating breakfast and last thing at night before retiring to bed. But we need to set aside enough time in the morning and evening to give our teeth a proper clean. Most people rush their morning teeth cleaning because they don’t want to run late for work. Even the evening routine can become sloppy because people are tired and just want to get to bed. Brushing should take a minimum of two minutes each session, being careful to brush over all teeth and gently massaging the gums too.
Use dental floss to get to those tricky areas between the teeth where your toothbrush doesn’t reach. You should floss when you get any food particles stuck between your teeth – don’t leave any food residue on your teeth as this causes bacteria to build up that can lead to tooth decay.