In the world of dentistry, cavities are always serious business. But it’s easy to argue that cavity prevention is even more important in a pandemic. There are several reasons for this. First, some people are still nervous to go into medical and dental clinics. While we can certainly understand this, we’d also like to encourage our patients to not neglect the treatments they may need now. In addition, staying at home more often these days can foster bad habits. Yes some folks are eating more sweets and drinking more acidic beverages as they spend time at home. While comfort foods can be a good release, we always recommend moderation in that department. We thought today it would be helpful to go back to basics on cavity prevention. You may have heard much of this before, but you might learn something new as well!
You can’t talk about cavity prevention without brushing. It is our number one tool to fight cavities, and you should absolutely make sure you’re still brushing twice a day, especially during the pandemic. There are a few factors to pay attention to as you plan your brushing routine. First, make sure you use only a soft or ultra soft brush. This ensures you won’t do any damage to your enamel as you brush. Don’t press down too hard as you brush either. Next, timing is key to success. You’ll want to give yourself 30 minutes after you drink acidic beverages like coffee or orange juice in the morning. As for the evening, make brushing your last activity before bed and try to leave the fluoride on your teeth for at least 30 minutes before drinking any water. Oh and it may sound counter intuitive, but it’s best not to brush more than 2-3 times a day. Over-brushing can actually damage your enamel as well. Flossing And Mouthwash
While brushing is the main weapon in cavity prevention, flossing is a close second in the race. You need to floss once a day. It’s up to you when to do it, but generally flossing at night before bed is a good option. You can even use your flossing routine to push the fluoride from brushing deeper between your teeth. Now not all flossing techniques are effective. Just pushing the floss quickly between your teeth is better than nothing, but it is not a full cleaning. You’ll want to gently press the floss down and make a “C” shape so you gather food debris in the corners of your teeth. Take your time and don’t rush through the task.
When it comes to mouthwash, it is the least important of the three oral hygiene tasks, but using it certainly doesn’t hurt. In fact, using mouthwash can kill bacteria in your mouth and provide a nice refresh for your breath. Just be cautious of using mouthwash after you brush. It can actually wash away the fluoride you just put on your teeth, and you want that to stay on as long as possible. It’s better to use mouthwash first before you brush.
Speaking of fluoride, it is a key ingredient in the fight against cavities. That’s because fluoride can re-mineralize your enamel and actually heal small cavities before they become an issue that requires fillings. We recommend only using ADA approved toothpaste that contains fluoride. The same goes for mouthwash. Certain health brand toothpastes and mouthwashes may only contain mint and other ingredients, but you absolutely need fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. In the US, the majority of us drink fluoridated water, which is a nice boost for oral health as well. This brings us to our final point.
Summer or winter, it pays to stay hydrated! First, drinking ample amounts of water will ensure you feel energetic, and who doesn’t need that these days? In addition, drinking water will ensure your mouth keeps producing saliva. This is vitally important as saliva is your natural defense against the bacteria that causes tooth decay. When your mouth is dry, saliva recedes from your teeth, and this makes you vulnerable to decay. If you have dry mouth long enough, your dentist will start to notice regular tooth decay from the condition. Finally, we just wrote about the theory that face masks might contribute to dry mouth and an uptick in cavities. So keep drinking that water!
Living through this pandemic can be very disorienting, and many of our old habits have disappeared overnight. One habit that should never disappear at any age is that of brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. Today these habits are arguably more important than ever as we navigate stress and try to stay home and stay healthy. So keep taking care of your teeth during this difficult time, and don’t forget a regular cleaning every six months is part of a healthy oral care plan. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment in our sanitized, social-distanced office.