How Can You Prevent Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay (also known as cavities or caries) is one of the most common complications of oral health. Per MedlinePlus, tooth decay is an often painful condition that is caused by the erosion of tooth enamel. It occurs when oral bacteria attack the tooth's surface by releasing acids. Eventually, the disease causes holes in the teeth, potentially leading to severe pain and a high risk of infection, warns MedlinePlus.

According to the statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US, about 90% of the adults aged 20 years or older have had at least one cavity. The CDC also revealed that approximately 52% of children aged between 6 to 8 years have had at least one cavity in their teeth.

Experts at Mayo Clinic explain that the symptoms of cavities may vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the erosion and how well people take care of their dental hygiene. Commonly, tooth decay may increase tooth sensitivity or lead to stains on the teeth, sharp pain while eating or drinking, or toothache without any trigger.

Tips to prevent tooth decay

Proper dental hygiene is critical to maintain the health of your teeth and prevent them from decaying. Experts advise people to floss daily and brush their teeth at least twice a day.

According to WebMD, you may want to brush your teeth regularly after each meal and before going to bed, using a fluoride toothpaste. However, Columbia University warns to wait 30 minutes before brushing if you ate or drank something acidic. In the meantime, drink some water.

You may also want to pay attention to your diet, as eating certain foods too often can aggravate the tooth decay process. Healthline recommends limiting starchy and sugary foods and drinks such as sodas or candies. They can contribute to plaque buildup which, when not cleaned properly, turns to tartar and causes tooth decay.

In addition, Healthline advises people to be mindful of their intake of dried fruits. While they are certainly one of the healthiest snacks, they are sticky and rich in sugar, leaving behind bits that stick to your teeth. Rinse your mouth after eating dry fruits, and then brush your teeth.

Cleveland Clinic also advises going for regular dental checkups at least twice a year. It can be helpful in identifying cavities early on and preventing worse tooth decay symptoms.