Think You’re Too Old for Cavities? Think Again

You’re an adult. You brush and floss regularly, and follow your dentist’s instructions. You no longer have to worry about cavities, right? Wrong. According to dental professionals, cavities aren’t just for kids. In fact, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal the risk of developing them can actually increase as we age—with untreated cavities found in 20 percent of adults over the age of 65. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take.

Remove sugar from your diet. Sugar is just as bad for your teeth at 40 as it was when you were four. When you eat or drink sugar, bacteria in your mouth produce an acidic substance. This breaks down your tooth enamel and can lead to decay. Learn to recognize sugar in all its forms—including honey, corn syrup, dextrose and fructose—and eliminate them from your diet.

Reduce acidic foods in your diet. Yes, citrus fruits and juices are good for your body. Unfortunately, they aren’t that good for your tooth enamel. Neither is diet soda, white wine, sports drinks, vinegar or pickles. If you must consume acidic foods, drink water along with them.

Use care when consuming sticky foods. Any food that sticks to teeth can promote enamel erosion and tooth decay. This includes dried fruit, caramels and other chewy candies, even bread and crackers. Protect yourself by brushing thoroughly after every meal. If you can’t brush, swish plenty of water around in your mouth.

Increase your calcium intake. Calcium can help strengthen and rebuild enamel. Make sure you’re consuming plenty of dark, leafy greens (like spinach and kale), yogurt and other dairy products.

Brush your teeth correctly. This means at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. You should also floss at least once a day. Your choice of toothpaste is important; make sure you’re using one with fluoride. If your dentist recommends it, you might even want to invest in a stronger prescription variety.

Avoid dry mouth. Saliva actually cleanses your teeth, helping to prevent cavities. Unfortunately, more than 500 different medications can reduce saliva production, causing dry mouth. If you notice this side effect, talk to your doctor about other prescription options.

Don’t delay dental care. Cavities are easier—and cheaper—to treat when they’re small. Don’t stop scheduling twice-yearly cleanings if you lose your employer-sponsored dental insurance. The monthly premium on an individual plan will be less than you’ll pay for complicated fillings and crowns.

Are you interested in exploring your individual or family dental insurance options? Contact us today to learn more about the plans available in your area.