Comprehensive guide to preventing tooth decay

Our teeth naturally decay over time. This is an unavoidable fact of life that you can never completely prevent. That being said, you can do plenty to prolong the time before you need to visit your dentist for cavity (dental caries) treatment, or even reverse the tooth decay process. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your teeth are as healthy as they can be. You may want to consider using some of the best clear aligners to get your teeth into the ideal position. After that, all you need to do is figure out what causes tooth decay in the first place and adjust your habits in order to prevent it. And that is exactly what this article is going to be about. We will show you exactly why tooth decay happens and how you go about preventing tooth decay.

What causes tooth decay?

To put it simply, tooth decay occurs when your teeth are exposed to certain acids. These acids usually come from oral bacteria and their interaction with starches and sugars. Frequent exposure to such acids breaks down the minerals in your teeth and tooth decay happens. It all begins once your teeth’ enamel is exposed to these acids. After that, the enamel starts to break down and your teeth form tiny holes (cavities) in them. If you do not do anything at this point to remedy the situation, the decay will reach the dentin. Dentin is the soft tissue that is located underneath the tooth enamel. It is at this point that the cavity becomes to be painful.

dentist working on a tooth cavity
If tooth decay progresses enough, your only option will be to visit a dentist.

If you still choose not to do anything, despite the pain, the cavity will reach the pulp. This is a problem because the pulp contains both blood vessels and nerves, which are highly sensitive. When this occurs, a heavy inflammation will follow and you will be all but forced to see a dentist. The time it takes from a simple, small, cavity, to extreme inflammation varies from person to person. Maintaining your oral health is a surefire way to extend (or completely prevent) this entire process. Aside from properly brushing your teeth, you will want to make sure that they get the necessary minerals.

A cavity can also be reversed if you spot it early in the process. And that means that you will need to be on the lookout for the signs of tooth decay.

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Signs of tooth decay

Preventing tooth decay is usually all about identifying the accompanying signs. There are six notable signs that may indicate that one or more of your teeth have developed a cavity. They are:

White spot on your tooth

If you notice a white spot on any of your teeth, it may indicate that a cavity is about to form. These white spots usually form due to demineralization of the tooth due to long-term exposure to bacteria. They can also form due to fluorosis or due to a specific condition called enamel hypoplasia (Turner’s tooth). You can prevent white spots on teeth by maintaining proper oral hygiene, avoiding acidic foods, and paying frequent visits to your dentist.

Sensitivity to hot or cold food

Sensitivity to cold food almost always indicates a cavity.

If you happen to notice that your teeth have become sensitive to particularly hot or cold foods, it may be one of the first signs that a cavity has formed in one or more of your teeth. As mentioned previously, the lack of enamel on your teeth affects the dentin, which then reacts to hot/cold foods. And the lack of enamel is a sure sign of a cavity.

Sensitivity to sweets that lingers

Another thing that you may notice is that you have some discomfort when consuming sweets or sugary drinks. While a slight discomfort from time to time is not something you should overly worry about, lingering sensitivity usually points toward tooth decay. 

Tooth stains

Aside from white spots, tooth stains can come in other colors as well, namely brown or black. These spots typically appear on the tooth’s surface and always indicate that a cavity is about to form, or is already formed.

A hole in your tooth

This is not really a sign, it is proof that your tooth has decayed enough to form a cavity. If you notice even the slightest hole in one of your teeth, visit your dentist immediately.


If you have a toothache, chances are that a cavity is an underlying reason for it. At times, you may feel some discomfort or pain when you bite down on food, which is another indication that a cavity is formed or is about to form.

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Preventing tooth decay

Now that you know how tooth decay happens in the first place and how to recognize the signs of a cavity, it is time to see what you can do about preventing tooth decay from occurring in the first place. Here’s a quick list of things you may want to do:

  • Maintain regular dental appointments
  • Reduce snacks
  • Keep a healthy diet
  • Utilize fluoride toothpaste and rinse
  • Floss
person flossing
Regular flossing is an excellent way of preventing tooth decay.

Of course, you will want to maintain proper oral hygiene at all times. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day, drinking plenty of water, and straightening your teeth. There are many different types of braces to take into consideration for the latter, and you will have choices galore. You may even qualify for Invisalign, which is one of the best-looking teeth alignment options available. But let’s say that your oral hygiene is up to snuff and that your teeth are in perfect position. Here’s how you can keep them that way:

Regular dental appointments are vital for preventing tooth decay

You don’t have to visit your dentist only when you have a toothache or notice a warning sign of tooth decay. One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is to maintain regular dentist appointments, even if you have absolutely no problems with your teeth. Aside from being able to provide you with efficient ways to whiten teeth, your dentist will be able to spot any cavity that is about to form and help you avoid any further decay. Ideally, you should visit your dentist at least two times a year. 

Try to reduce, or completely eliminate snacks

Since one of the major contributing factors to tooth decay is acid from mouth bacteria, you will want to limit the bacteria “food” intake. This means that you may want to avoid excessive snacking throughout the day, as that constantly repeats the acid-developing process. Thus, one of the best ways of preventing tooth decay is to try to stick to regular meals only and forget about snacks. You can drink plenty of water to compensate.

A healthy diet is extremely important

a carrot, representing one of the ways of preventing tooth decay
Carrots are amazing for your oral health.

The absolute best way to prevent tooth decay is to be careful of what you eat. If you can avoid sugary foods such as soda, fruit juice, raisins, caramel, or any other sticky foods, your teeth will experience minimal decay. The best foods that you can eat are fresh fruits and vegetables, as they help the production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is extremely important as it protects your teeth and washes away any harmful particles. You may also want to introduce carrots into your diet, as they are natural teeth scrubbers. Provided that you chew them, of course.

Fluoride is your teeth’s best friend

You may have noticed that some kinds of toothpaste have “Contains Fluoride” on them. Fluoride is a mineral that helps your teeth resist tooth decay. This mineral can, in some cases, even prevent existing tooth decay as well. That is why you may want to consider incorporating fluoride toothpaste and fluoride rinse into your oral hygiene routine. However, if you are applying this advice to a child that is yet to fully form their permanent teeth, you may want to be careful on the fluoride intake, lest the child develops fluorosis. While dental fluorosis does not weaken the child’s teeth in any way, it may create dark brown patches that are clearly visible.

Floss at least once a day

Lastly, you will want to incorporate flossing into your dental routine. Ideally, you will want to floss after each meal but try doing it at least once a day. The reason why you want to floss is the fact that some foods can get stuck in the spaces between your teeth, something that a regular toothbrush cannot reach. The “trapped” food will cause bacteria to build up, which produce acid and lead to tooth decay.

As you can see, preventing tooth decay is all about minimizing the bacteria in your mouth. Fewer bacteria mean less acid, which in turn means that your teeth are not attacked as much. You can never 100% prevent tooth decay, it is virtually impossible, but you can minimize the effect and reverse it when you spot the warning signs.

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For more information on how to achieve and maintain healthy teeth, you can always refer to the Consumer Opinion Guide. We can also provide you with all the information you may require about invisible braces, top brace companies, and much more!

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