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Posted on: November 24, 2021
Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone
In most cases, tooth decay that causes cavities is entirely preventable. Did you know the easiest way to prevent cavities is to control plaque in your mouth? Plaque is the fuzzy substance that builds up on your teeth after you eat or drink. If you don’t remove it regularly, the bacteria in the plaque takes the sugars in the foods you consume and turns it into an acid. The acid will eventually eat away at your tooth enamel and cause a hole (cavity) in your tooth.
First, the acid eats a hole in the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth. If it isn’t caught, it will reach the dentin, the middle layer of the tooth. At this point, you will experience tooth sensitivity and other symptoms. Finally, if you don’t seek help, the cavity can reach the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth where the nerves reside. If this happens, you’re likely to experience pain and possibly a painful abscess.
Tooth loss could be the end result, but the process could be avoided with regular dental exams, good dental hygiene and by watching what you eat and drink.
Ways to Prevent Cavities
You can do a great deal to keep your teeth healthy, so they will last a lifetime.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Three times a day, after every meal, is even better. If you eat or drink something acidic, like orange juice or tomatoes, during your meal, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing afterward. The acid in certain foods and drinks can temporarily weaken tooth enamel. Always use a soft toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. Brush for two minutes to ensure you reach the outside, inside and top of each tooth.
- Clean between your teeth each day. The American Dental Association recommends people floss at least once a day. This helps prevent cavities between teeth, keeps your breath fresh and can help prevent gum disease. Despite the benefits of flossing, and the many options available besides string floss, most people don’t floss. According to the ADA, only 16 percent of adults floss daily.
- Drink fluoridated water. Water is one of the healthiest drinks for your body and your teeth in particular. The fluoride will help strengthen your tooth enamel. If your tap water does not contain fluoride, there are many bottled waters that contain fluoride. Unsweetened green is also an excellent drink for tooth health as it can neutralize cavity-causing acids in plaque.
- Avoid sweets. Anything with sugar in it, like candy and soft drinks, feeds the bacteria in your mouth. It’s worse if you sip on a sugary drink or munch on candies all day long. It you must have a treat, eat or drink it and then brush your teeth afterward. If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth out or chew sugarless gum. This action is better than nothing and should work until you have access to your toothbrush.
- Have regular exams at your dentist’s office. He or she can access your risk for cavities, and suggest any extra treatments that could help you, like sealants or fluoride treatments. You can also make sure you don’t have any small cavities that need treatment. It’s better than waiting to see a dentist when a tooth is really bothering you, as treatment will be more extensive and more costly.
- Eat a healthy diet. What is good for your body is also good for your teeth. By making sure you get enough nutrients and vitamins, your teeth will stay strong and healthy. There are even some foods that can help fight cavities! It is important to keep in mind that lots of white sugars and carbohydrates can have a negative impact on the health of your teeth. If you are going to eat them be sure to brush and floss afterwards.
Available Cavity Treatments
The treatments for cavities depend on the extent of the decay. If a dentist finds a cavity before you experience any symptoms, the treatment is less extensive and more affordable.
Fillings – Filling are the main restoration people envision when they think about needing a cavity treated. When you have a small to moderate size cavity, your dentist will remove any decay and fill the hole to prevent further damage. Filling materials are typically tooth-colored composite resin or amalgam, a mixture of metals. There are other options too. The material you and your dentist decide upon depending on the size of the cavity, where it’s located and your aesthetic preferences.
Crowns – Crowns are custom dental restoration that completely cap a tooth. Crowns strengthen teeth that are not strong anymore because of a large dental filling. Without a crown, the enamel can chip or break easily. Crowns are custom made to look the surrounding teeth. There are different materials crowns can be made from; your dentist can help you select the right material in your situation.
Root Canal Therapy – Dentists use root canal therapy procedures to help patients who have an untreated cavity that has grown so large it is letting bacteria into the pulp of the tooth, If this happens, the only way your dental professional can preserve your tooth is to remove the pulp and then clean out and fill the space. After root canal therapy, you will need a crown to restore the tooth’s strength and make sure it can function normally.
When tooth enamel starts demineralizing, resulting in a white spot, it can be treated with fluoride and better dental hygiene. This can prevent a cavity from forming. You may see people on the internet saying they reversed a cavity, but all they did was reverse a potential cavity. Researchers are working on a way to use peptides to heal tooth enamel that already has a cavity.
Unfortunately, the treatment isn’t available yet, but relying on sound cavity prevention techniques is. You can prevent cavities with sound dental hygiene at home and eating a diet that does not promote plaque buildup. Your local dentist in Alpharetta can also help.