Many of us are, unfortunately, all too familiar with tooth decay. Around 69% of all adults aged 35 to 44 in the U.S. have lost a tooth, whether it's because of tooth decay, gum disease, a failed root canal, or an accident.
There are many words we hate to hear at the dentist's office, but the most common ones are probably "oral cavity." Cavities, or dental caries, are a result of bacteria boring a hole in the tooth's enamel, which has to be plugged up before it spreads.
The good news is that an oral cavity is almost always preventable. You can stop tooth decay in its tracks by staying aware of these top three culprits:
The golden rules of oral health are simple: brush and floss! Taking care of your teeth on a twice-daily basis is the best way to prevent cavities. Good habits now can also prevent more serious conditions later, such as gingivitis or root canals.
Also, be sure to visit your family dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. Only half of adults get to the dentist every six months as recommended, but regular visits will help identify any issues before they get out of hand.
Your doctor's probably told you that you are what you eat. Your dentist will say the same. Bacteria in the mouth, which can cause tooth decay, love to feed off of sugars. High-sugar foods and drinks are more likely to result in an oral cavity.
Acidic foods and carbonated beverages can also cause the enamel of the tooth to wear down over time. Limit your consumption of things that are both sugary and acidic -- like soda and fruit juice!
Unfortunately, we can't control all aspects of our teeth. Certain people are simply predisposed to having either extremely strong or very poor teeth because of genetic influences. If your parents have had frequent dental issues -- and 74% of adults have had a tooth extracted in their lives -- it's all the more important to control what you can through good hygiene and dietary habits.
The best method of prevention is knowledge. Understand the common causes of dental caries and do what you can at home to ensure a smooth visit with your dentist every time.