How to prevent cavities

When teeth aren’t cleaned correctly, bacteria will create plaque, and when this plaque combines with sugary foods and carbohydrates, the acid in these foods can break down the surface of teeth, leading to pits and holes known as cavities. If cavities go untreated, the damage can spread to the nerves in the centre of your teeth, causing intense pain and potentially leading to swollen gums, gum disease, abscesses, tooth loss and potentially difficulty eating.

As such, preventing cavities is key to positive dental health and oral hygiene. In this blog, we stress the importance of brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, explain how you can prevent cavities and offer tips on what you can do to stop an existing cavity from worsening.

How to stop cavities

If you’re experiencing spontaneous toothache, sensitivity, sharp pain when eating particularly hot, cold or sweet food, pain when biting down on food, or notice holes, pits or brown, black or white staining on your teeth, it could be an early sign of cavities. However, while reversing tooth decay isn’t possible, you can attempt to stop cavities before they form and undertake actions that will prevent cavities from appearing in the future.

Tips for stopping cavities include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Consuming more calcium
  • Flossing once a day
  • Having dental sealants fitted
  • Limiting intake of acidic and sugary food and drink
  • Monitoring pH value in food and drink you consume
  • Taking vitamins and supplements
  • Using mouthwash twice a day
  • Visiting a dentist every six months

It would also be advisable to watch out for risk factors that could invite cavities to form in your mouth. Examples of factors that could increase the likelihood of cavities forming include the food and drink you’re consuming, location of your teeth and how substances could remain stuck in certain areas of your mouth, heartburn, ineffective brushing, insufficient fluoride, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and weakened fillings.

How to stop a cavity from getting worse

You may already have a cavity beginning to form, and if you do, you should consider things you could do to stop it from worsening and causing damage to your teeth and gums. For example, factors that could prevent a cavity from worsening include:

Avoiding refined sugar

It would always be advisable to avoid exposing your teeth to acidic foods, but these foods will only worsen cavities in your mouth. When cavities come into contact with the acid in sugary food and drink such as cakes, cereal, cookies, fruit, sweets, tea and coffee, they expand, so avoiding these consumables would help to prevent your cavities from growing in size.

Brushing your teeth carefully

You should always aim to brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day, but if you have a cavity, it’s even more important to stick to this regime. Not only will brushing your teeth prevent more cavities from forming, but carefully brushing around the cavity could remove food particles and prevent existing cavities from worsening.

Chewing xylitol gum

Xylitol is a sweet, natural component that is effective at destroying bacteria. Due to this, chewing gum that contains xylitol is a powerful remedy from cleaning the mouth, maintaining the condition of cavities and stopping any new cavities from forming.

Keeping hydrated

Dryness in the mouth only allows bacteria to grow, which can help cavities to form. Although a step that many people tick off naturally, drinking plenty of water will keep your mouth moist and make it harder for cavities to grow.

Rinsing your mouth with salt water

A traditional remedy for treating wounds and infections in the mouth, salt water holds antiseptic properties and is often used for removing mouth ulcers. It’s also effective in removing the bacteria that forms and breeds cavities.

Using a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is a proven solution for building enamel and stopping bacteria from existing in your mouth. If you spot a cavity early, brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste can help to stop the formation of cavities and prevent other cavities from forming.

Ultimately, if you’re unable to prevent cavities from forming, it would be advisable to see a dentist. At this point, they may ask about pain and sensitivity, perform an examination on your teeth and gums, check for soft areas in your mouth and carry out an x-ray to identify the extent of the damage. Depending on the severity, they may then suggest any number of dental treatments such as crowns, fillings, fluoride treatment, root canal or tooth extraction.

Neil Kotak
21/3/2021