During your years in school, you might have heard plenty of warnings from the adults about keeping your teeth in good shape and reducing your risk for cavities and decay. But, as you’ve gotten older, you might have started to focus less on the health of your teeth and mouth and more on other concerns.
Not having parents or teachers around to to nag them about taking better care of their teeth seems to be working against many adults in the US. It’s long been known that a significant amount of the adult population has some form of gum disease. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control in May 2015 suggests that a considerable number of adults have tooth decay in some form or another, too.
The State of Decay
The CDC found that almost 91 percent of people between ages 20 and 64 had some experience with tooth decay and cavities, either treated or not treated. In that age group, almost 27 percent had untreated dental cavities. Interestingly enough, younger people, between the ages of 20 and 34, were most likely to have untreated dental cavities than older people, between the ages of 35 and 49 and 50 and 64. But, just 82 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 34 had any type of decay or cavities, compared to almost 94 percent of people between the ages of 35 and 49 and more than 97 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64.
What You Can Do About It
There are several things that an adult can do to minimize the risk of tooth decay and cavities or to treat any decay that has already occurred. Continuing to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss at least once a day are essential for keeping the teeth in good shape and for cutting the risk for decay.
Staying hydrated is important for the health of the teeth, too. Dry mouth tends to be more common as people get older, due to a number of factors. The medication you’re taking could cause dry mouth, for example. Bacteria has ample opportunity to grow and multiply when the mouth is dry, creating an ideal environment for the development of cavities. If you are experiencing dry mouth, you can work with your doctor or dentist to figure out the cause of it and the best way to treat it.
You might not be getting enough water, in which case drinking tap water with fluoride added or finding a brand of bottled water that includes fluoride can be particularly helpful for your teeth. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and minimize the chance of you developing cavities.
To avoid being one of the almost 27 percent of adults who have an untreated cavity, seeing your dentist for a regular check up is essential. During a routine dental exam, a dentist will check your teeth for signs of decay, treat any existing cavities, and inspect your gums for signs of periodontal disease. He or she might refer you to a periodontist if you have signs of gum disease that need to be treated.
What Might Be Harming Your Teeth
Along with taking care to protect your teeth, you want to reduce or eliminate any factors that can make tooth decay more likely to occur. One area that might be worth focusing on is your diet. Eating sugary snacks and drinks can significantly increase your chances of developing tooth decay, for example while eating vegetables, fruits, and dairy products such as cheese can help clean your teeth or strengthen the enamel.
In some instances, food and drink options that seem healthy can actually be doing some damage to your teeth. For example, you might think that juicing is a great way to make sure you get the fruits and veggies you need in your diet. But, when the fiber is removed from fruit or vegetables, you’re left with sugary drink that can be as bad for your teeth as a glass of soda. A gummy vitamin or chewable vitamin might seem like a good way to make sure you’re not deficient in any way, but the sugar found in the those vitamins can be just as bad for you teeth as candy.
Concerns about cavities shouldn’t fade away when you’re an adult. If you want to hold on to your original teeth for as long as possible, taking care to protect them is important. In Miami, Florida, periodontists Dr. John Paul Gallardo are happy to examine your teeth and gums and recommend any treatment options that will help you keep your smile as healthy as possible for as long as possible. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gallardo, call (305) 447-1447 today.