How Do I Prevent Cavities?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

A cavity is another word for tooth decay. Since tooth decay is an infectious condition, it can cause major pain, infection, inflammation, and the loss of a tooth. A cavity is caused by different types of acid producing bacteria that attach themselves to the enamel that covers the teeth. If the bacteria is not detached, they will multiply and spread until much more bacteria forms. The proteins that are found in saliva combine with the bacteria and then produce plaque, a whitish film on the tooth. The plaque then leads to a cavity.

To prevent this from happening, good oral hygiene is a must. It is very important to brush at least twice a day, since brushing removes bacteria and also the food debris that bacteria feed upon. Although you should be careful since brushing too often and too hard can cause more damage to teeth. Also, most people don't brush for the recommended 2-3 minutes, but only brush for about 45 seconds! This mistake could cause you to miss allot of tooth surfaces.

Flossing the teeth everyday is also essential to the tooth cleaning process and the prevention of cavities, since it removes the plaque from between the tooth and gum line. When brushing, you may end up getting rid of most of the bacteria, but some of it hides in the small spaces between the teeth. When you brush without flossing, it is only cleaning 65% of the mouth, and the other 35% remains unclean. It is recommended that a person should floss at least once a day. It is easy to remove the plaque from your mouth, but when the plaque builds up it causes tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist.

There are many different types and brands of toothpaste to choose from, but as long as it contains fluoride, which is the most important ingredient in toothpaste, the brand does not matter. All fluoride toothpastes are capable to remove and fight bacteria, plaque, and cavities. Just be sure the brand that you buy has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on the package, which means it safe to use as well as efficient. With floss, there is really no best type to use. Most dentists favor unwaxed floss, since when it is being used the nylon threads spread out to consume more plaque. Some dentists even say that waxed floss leaves a sort of residue on the teeth, which can collect plaque more quickly.

Just be sure to brush and floss, and you'll go through life with a cleaner mouth!

submitted by L. Chapman