It’s Saturday afternoon and after scouting my refrigerator for a treat, I uncork a bottle of chilled, fizzy Coke. All’s well until I feel a jabbing jolt of pain in my mouth. Wonder if it’s my teeth calling out, “Hey, easy there! Yours Forever, Little Miss Sweet Tooth”.
Flashback to all the nightmarish tooth decay stories my mother told me as a kid – “Look at the neighbour’s son who made his parents pay a quadruple-digit dental bill because he didn’t floss at night” The very next minute I, poured my bottle of sugary goodness down the drain and immediately called the dentist for an appointment. Uhm, one thing the call convinced me was taking my dental visits pretty darn seriously, especially when your dentist loves to repeat himself, “Lazy youth today, lousy age tomorrow.” *drags feet to the bathroom shelf*
Cavities, or tooth decay, is the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It is basically a hole in your tooth. Fact: Tooth decay is a common bugbear for many of us. It is the second most neglected common dental problem in India after bad breath. The price of carelessness is the expensive reality. If you do not brush your teeth immediately after eating, the bacteria feeds on the sugar stuck on your teeth to produce acids. All hell breaks loose when these acids start attacking the teeth and destroy their enamel covering, resulting in tooth decay and giving you a less than perfect smile. Once a cavity is formed, the tooth cannot repair itself and a visit the dentist is the only way out.
Dental cavities can, however, be prevented by committing to some simple daily oral hygiene practices while still indulging in your ‘favorite’ foods every once in a while.
Here are the top 5 ways to keep cavities at bay:
1. Brush your chompers
You’ve heard it as a child, and you’re going to hear it now: brushing helps get rid of bacteria. It is the simplest, yet the most effective way, to prevent cavities and bad breath. Brushing before bed (after your late-night snack) is important because allowing bacteria to linger on your teeth overnight can cause enamel damaging acid to build up and wreak its havoc. Fortunately for you, just spending a few minutes on diligent dental care, can prevent cavities. Armed with the right soft-bristle tooth brush like Oral-B Vitality 100 Criss Cross Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush (White) and flawless brushing techniques, you will definitely keep those nasties away from your teeth. Also, it’s a good idea to replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or right after you’ve recovered from a sore throat or cold to prevent re-infecting yourself.
2. Floss for the boss
We know, no one’s a fan of flossing. But without it, you are only cleaning about half of your teeth surface with brushing alone. So, how do you start the flossing habit? Think of it as ‘multi-tasking’, something we all love doing. Try flossing while watching TV, or while reading a book in bed. Ideally, you should floss soon after a meal, or before bedtime, like you brush your teeth. Flossing is convenient since you can even do it on the go, Nykaa recommends GUBB USA 50M Mint Waxed Dental Floss. Once you get in the habit of it, boy, is it addictive.
3. Fluoride is good for you
If you enjoy sipping on lemonade or enjoy a daily glass of margarita (you know who you are!), you’d better invest in oral-care products containing fluoride that re-mineralize your teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the enamel on the outside of the tooth. It can also help re-strengthen an area on the tooth that is in the early stages of developing a cavity. Switch your alcohol-heavy mouthwash for a fluoride mouth rinse instead like Listerine Cavity Fighter Mouthwash and Colgate Total Advanced Health Anticavity Toothpaste. Bonus tip: It won’t make your eyes tear up when you rinse. It’s also a good idea to not use alcohol-heavy mouthwash because it can cause mouth dryness and increase acid activity in the mouth.
4. Cut back on sugary and acidic drinks
Can’t function without your latte or chai-latte? The flipside is prolonged exposure to acidic coffee or tea that is bad for teeth. Compound that with added sugar and your risk of new cavities just doubled. We know, we know… this article will not stop you from sipping your daily cup of java first thing every morning, but you can do a couple of teeth-saving things. First, sip it in under 20 minutes or less and rinse your mouth with water immediately after. Easy peasy. But that’s not it. Your favourite alcoholic cocktails or even wines are acidic in nature and therefore, dry out your mouth. And as you know, saliva helps protect you from cavities.
5. Get those nutrients working for you
You are what you eat. The same holds true for your teeth and gums. Eat fresh, fibrous, raw foods that serve as the best natural defence against plaque build-up. Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables like the apples, oranges, carrots, dates, raisins, beans and peas keep your teeth and gums clean, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). They get the saliva flowing, that underestimated hero that naturally cleans your teeth and contains antimicrobial agents that combat harmful bacteria. You can also re-mineralize your teeth by eating calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese; and get your daily dose of supplements like Himalayan Organics D3, Calcium, Magnesium Immunity Booster, Anti-oxidant Supplement - Lime Flavor or Himalayan Organics Calcium Magnesium Zinc Vitamin D3 and B12 Tablets to aid the process.