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Cavities are certainly a problem, and affect the very young to the elderly. Part of the reason cavities are prevalent is because of our diets. The processed sugar we eat tends to nourish the bacteria responsible for creating cavities and makes plaque accumulation on the teeth worse. For some people, even the steps listed below to avoid getting cavities aren’t completely sufficient. Certain people seem more prone to tooth decay because the pH balance in their mouths is slightly lower than normal. Still, practicing the steps below can help avoid at least a cavity or more for many people who are most prone to them.
Good daily oral hygiene should begin when children are young, and some dentists and pediatricians suggest that even before babies have teeth, you can accustom them to the beginning steps of brushing the teeth. After babies eat, you can gently wipe the gums with a soft flannel cloth, and by the time children are about a year old, you can help them brush their teeth after each meal. Try not to force this issue, but make it a pleasant time, with lots of love, hugs and praise.
You can help young children practice good oral health not only by teaching brushing habits early on, but also by avoiding some typical cavity causes. In particular, don’t allow kids to fall asleep with bottles of formula, milk or juice, and you may not want to offer children juice at all during their first couple of years of life. Even when you’re using 100% fruit juice, you are still coating your child’s teeth with a whopping dose of sugar each time juice is consumed.
Pediatricians may also want to prescribe fluoride tablets to young children. These are only necessary when the local water supply is not fluoridated. These tablets can help reduce cavities, but this supplementation isn’t needed if your child routinely swallows fluoridated toothpaste. With fluoride, a little goes a long way, and too much can cause tooth staining.
In addition to brushing after meals, a lifelong habit that should begin early in childhood, flossing is equally important to avoid getting cavities. About 35% of the tooth structure can’t be reached except by floss. Dentists recommend flossing twice a day. Further, you should plan to have at least two dental cleanings a year, perhaps more if you are prone to tooth decay. Cleanings should begin when kids are about one or two years old and continue throughout your life to break down plaque build-up. Commonly, children may have sealants placed on their teeth, and this is becoming more popular for adults as well. These help keep plaque from forming on the teeth and destroying tooth enamel.
People with dry mouth, either from illness or medication usage may avoid getting cavities if they use drops to stimulate saliva. It also helps to get the recommended minimum of six to eight glasses of water a day. Smokers are much more prone to tooth decay and should quit. The basic formula for good dental health is the following:
Eight glasses of water thing is an old wives' tale. You get most of that water from the food you eat.
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