Wondering How You Can Avoid Problematic Cavities?
Follow These Simple Steps to Keep a Sparkling Smile!
When Michael discovered he had three new cavities he was understandably upset. Michael wanted to make sure that he could prevent cavities in the future, so I explained to Michael how cavities form in the first place.
How Cavities Form
We all have bacteria in our mouths. Plaque is sticky bacterial residue that continually develops on your teeth. Food, drink, and saliva generate plaque throughout the day, which is why it’s so important to floss and brush at least twice a day to diminish plaque buildup.
Bacteria feed off of sugars. As bacteria feed they produce waste in the form of acid. Bacteria live in plaque on the surface of your teeth, and when they consume sugars they leave behind acid on the surface of your teeth. Dental plaque shelters bacteria and traps destructive acid on the surface of your teeth.
Cavities are caused when the enamel, the protective hard surface of your tooth, erodes through a process called demineralization. Acid slowly eats away at enamel until it reaches the inner layer of the tooth called the dentin. Cavities can also affect the outer layer of the root of the tooth, called the cementum.
These cavities can cause pain and bad breath. If left untreated the infected tooth can infect the gum and soft tissues surrounding it. These infections can be quite painful and damaging, sometimes necessitating extensive surgery and tooth extraction.
What Can I Do?
There are many ways that you can actively work to prevent cavity formation in the first place.
- Brush Your Teeth Often
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste removes plaque from your mouth before acid has a chance to adhere to your tooth. If you are unable to brush after every meal, make sure to at least rinse your mouth with water to free any debris from between your teeth and encourage salivation, which remineralizes teeth.
- Floss Daily
Flossing cleans those small spaces that your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is the most effective way for you to remove plaque and prevent cavities between your teeth.
- Use Mouth Rinse
Rinsing your mouth with antimicrobial mouth rinse helps to kill bacteria and prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Mouth rinse also cleans those hard to reach places that brushing can miss.
- Eat Well
Stay away from foods with a lot of sugar, junk foods, and starchy foods. Incorporate foods rich in Vitamin C into your diet, foods like kiwi, oranges, and broccoli. Foods rich in calcium also promote healthy teeth. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so it’s a good idea to include some Vitamin D rich foods into your diet—many fish and eggs are high in Vitamin D. Crunchy foods, especially vegetables, are another great choice, because they can naturally clean plaque off your teeth as you chew.
What Can My Dentist Do?
It’s important that you maintain regular appointments with your dentist, because your dentist can do a lot to help you prevent cavities.
- Dental Cleanings
Regular professional dental cleanings are essential for avoiding cavities. A dental cleaning is the only way to rid your teeth of existing tartar. Your dentist will also be able to monitor changes in the health of your teeth and gums, making it more likely that potential problems will be noticed and treated before they cause serious damage.
Your dentist can help prevent decay by coating your back teeth with thin layers of resin. These protective layers, called sealants, keep bacteria from colonizing in the crevices of your molars.
Michael realized that he had been snacking too often on sugary foods. He also wasn’t flossing every day; he’d skip days or even weeks at a time. Michael has been able to prevent further cavities by having regular dental cleanings, brushing and flossing diligently, and incorporating healthier foods into his diet.
If you think you may have cavities that need to be taken care of, or just want to know more about how to prevent cavities, click here to schedule a free consultation.
Look for next week’s newsletter when we’ll be talking about how fluoride affects your dental health!
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