Oral diseases—those relating to the teeth, gums, or tongue—have a certain distasteful quality to them (pun not intended). Perhaps it’s due to the intimate nature of mouths. Mouths are used to show affection, present our moods, and communicate with one another. When bad breath, swollen gums, or dental decay mix into the equation, the result is jarring. To learn how to prevent bad breath and other common dental issues, it’s important to first understand tooth decay, what it’s caused by, and how to prevent it.
In this article, the focus will be on the latter oral problem: dental decay—how it occurs, how to treat it, and of course, how to prevent it.
Tooth Decay: What Is It?
First off, let’s define exactly what tooth decay is. When bacteria colonize on your teeth (bacteria from food, the air, etc.), they metabolize carbohydrates and produce acid as a byproduct which eats away at the outermost layer of teeth—the tooth enamel.1 The bacteria collect and harden into a destructive substance known as plaque, which becomes difficult to remove without professional assistance from a dentist. The plaque then continues to break down the tooth unabated. This entire process is tooth dental decay.
Tooth decay becomes particularly harmful when holes in the tooth enamel are created and the dentin is exposed. Dentin consists of millions of small holes that lead to the dental pulp. Revealing the dentin subjects your mouth to further oral diseases, abscesses, and even tooth loss.
Thus, it’s important to protect your tooth enamel as best you can from the get-go.
Tooth Decay Prevention and Treatment
Thankfully, tooth decay prevention and the treatment of early-stage tooth decay is easy. It’s the same procedure you’ve been taught since you were a little kid. The trick is proper oral hygiene.
To ensure you’re doing everything to promote a healthy mouth, here are the best tooth decay prevention home remedies to a healthy smile:
- Brush your teeth twice a day… Every day – Yup, starting with the basics, brushing your teeth with toothpaste in the morning and the evening is the crucial first step to removing the majority of bacteria from the exposed tooth surface. To get to those hard-to-reach places, try using an interdental brush after your regular routine.
- Floss daily – What brushing does to the outer surfaces of your teeth, flossing does to the crevices between your teeth. Because harmful bacteria are on the cellular level, a common place for them to hide is where the toothbrush can’t reach. Get in there with dental flosses to scrape away that unwanted plaque.
- Use mouthwash – Even if you clean your teeth front to back and in between, there are also germs on your cheeks, tongue, and roof of your mouth. Using mouthwash will help clean the areas the previous two steps missed.
If you already do all of the above and you’re still suffering, there are some additional natural tooth decay prevention techniques you can try to boost your oral hygiene.
Upgrade Your Teeth Cleaning Equipment
Are you still using a manual toothbrush? What about floss—are you still using the same green string that you used as a kid? For some reason, phones have gone from being stuck on the wall to being tiny and available in your pocket, yet people still stick to their outdated oral hygiene brushing and flossing technology.
If you fit in this category, know that it’s never too late to get with the times. Here are some upgrades you should consider.
- Electric toothbrush – Clinical studies have found that people who use an electric (or powered) toothbrush when brushing their teeth benefit from a significant reduction in plaque removal and can help prevent Gingivitis when compared to those who use a manual toothbrush.2
- Water flosser – Using water to floss the gunk and bacteria out from between your teeth is a gentler, more effective method than traditional dental flosses. Because these machines take up a lot of counter space, Toothshower created a water flossing device that could be easily installed into your shower. That way, you can floss daily in combination with your daily shower.
Regular Dental Checkups
Even the most diligent oral hygiene routine will have flaws. By regularly visiting your dentist for a checkup and cleaning, you can ensure your teeth and gums are in top shape. Not only will dentists have a better sense of your overall oral dental health, but they will be able to eliminate any plaque that has built up in hard to reach places.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Because the bacteria living on your teeth metabolize simple carbohydrates to produce acid, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of sugary substances you ingest. Try to reach for the sugar-free gum when given the option. Keep up a well-balanced diet. Try to avoid foods that are high in processed sugars like:
- Soda or fruit juices
- Candy, cookies, and sugary desserts
- Ice cream
By limiting the food groups that are a source for bacteria in your mouth, you directly limit the amount of damage that can be done to your teeth.
Tooth Decay Be Gone
Nobody wants to lose the source of their bright, healthy smile. By maintaining a stringent oral hygiene routine, you can keep your pearly whites shiny and presentable. Remember, when it comes to your mouth, a little effort each day to prevent tooth decay and keep healthy oral hygiene is all that’s needed to avoid hefty problems down the road.
- NCBI. Medical Microbiology – Chapter 29: Microbiology of Dental Decay and Periodontal Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8259/
- NCBI. A comparison of the efficacy of powered and manual toothbrushes in controlling plaque and gingivitis: a clinical study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652371/