3 Things A Dentist Says Can Help You Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a dental disease that causes destruction of the enamel, or the outer layer of the tooth. As it turns out, tooth decay occurs when plaque builds up on your teeth (via Cleveland Clinic). Plaque is formed when the bacteria in your mouth combine with sugary and starchy foods, producing acid. The acids in plaque can then erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to tooth loss or even an infection in your gums.

That's why it's important to take preventative measures to help remove any plaque buildup on your teeth after you're done eating and drinking. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Dr. Sharda Patel, the owner of Dental Oasis Family Dentistry in Pleasanton, California, a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and the American Dental Education Association, shares the three most important steps you can take to prevent plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Brush your teeth regularly

According to Dr. Patel, one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is to brush your teeth on a regular basis. "Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to prevent your tooth decay risk," she says. "When you brush your teeth, it removes the plaque stuck on your teeth, and that's why brushing twice a day is important." As a matter of fact, the key to reducing plaque buildup is to make sure you brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush for at least two minutes at a time (via Cleveland Clinic).

It's also important to get into the habit of flossing after brushing your teeth. This can help remove any leftover food and plaque stuck in between your teeth, Dr. Patel says. For best results, floss your teeth once a day with dental floss or a water flosser to remove any interdental plaque and reduce your risk of tooth decay.

Rinse with fluoride mouthwash

Another great way to prevent tooth decay is to swish and rinse your mouth out with fluoride mouthwash on a regular basis. If you have a high risk of tooth decay or just want to prevent any cavities from developing, your dentist might recommend adding a fluoride mouthwash to your daily routine. "Fluoride helps you prevent your tooth decay risk and strengthen your teeth, so rinsing your mouth with fluoride-containing mouthwash will help," Dr. Patel shares.

That's because fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acids in your mouth (via Scientific American). Plaque buildup can lead to mineral loss over time, resulting in cavities. Rinsing with fluoride, however, can help to remineralize your teeth,  which replenishes any lost calcium and phosphorus, to help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Flouride mouthwash can also help kill any harmful bacteria on your teeth, reducing your risk of cavities overall.

Avoid frequent snacking and sipping

Dr. Patel shares that it's best to avoid frequent consumption throughout the day. "Consuming snacks and soda every once in a while may harm your teeth, and that's why you should decrease your snacking and sipping," Dr. Patel explains. When you chew and drink foods and beverages, your mouth produces acid to help digest it. Frequent exposure to these acids, however, can erode your enamel over time. "So, lessen your snacking and sipping if you want to prevent tooth decay risk," she adds.

As a result, you might also want limit your daily intake of both sugary and acidic foods and drinks since they can wear away at your teeth and increase your risk of cavities (via UIC College of Dentistry). Instead of loading up on coffee and soda throughout the day, which can cause tooth decay, try drinking more water to help rinse your mouth and wash away any lingering sugars and acids on your teeth.

To learn more about Dr. Sharda Patel, go to Dentaloasispleasanton.com.