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Posted on: September 15, 2021
Advice for Preventing Cavities
No one likes visiting a dentist and hearing they have a cavity. Needing a filling prolongs your visit and is an added expense. You know you need the filling before the decay spreads and you need more than a simple filling, but most people still dread it. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent developing cavities.
A cavity literally hole in your tooth. It occurs when the enamel, which is the very hard outer layer of a tooth, is damaged. Enamel is eroded when plaque builds up and we eat or drink sugary substances. The bacteria in plaque takes the sugar and creates an acid that will eat away at the enamel if it’s left on the tooth too long.
Cavities will progressively get worse if they are not treated. With early stage cavities, you won’t have any symptoms, which is why it’s important to see a dentist for routine exams. An x-ray is often the only way to catch small cavities. If you experience discomfort when you eat or drink something hot or cold or pain when you bite down, see your dentist. Also, if you see a visible hole, see your dentist right away. You need cavity treatment before the decay becomes worse and more invasive treatment becomes necessary.
Ways to Avoid Developing Cavities
Greatly reducing your risk for cavities is easy with these simple steps:
1. Brush Two Times Daily
Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that bears the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Use a soft bristle toothbrush that can reach into nooks and crannies. Brush gently and don’t use a hard toothbrush; you could damage the enamel. Make sure your toothbrush is clean and dry before you use it. Store your toothbrush upright and uncovered so it will not have any bacteria on it.
2. Floss at Least Once a Day
It’s recommended you floss once a day to remove plaque and food particles that your toothbrush can’t reach. Floss before brushing your teeth to remove the food particles when you brush. Flossing before brushing also helps your fluoride toothpaste protect more of the surfaces of your teeth.
3. See Your Dentist Twice a Year for a Routine Exam
When you have a routine dental exam every six months, you won’t have to worry about painful cavities developing. Small cavities that a dentist can catch with a visual exam or an x-ray usually don’t hurt. He or she can treat them before you start experiencing discomfort. You can also talk to your dentist about any medications you take or medical conditions you have that can increase your cavity risk. There are many treatments that can lower your risk.
4. Look into Dental Sealants
Sealants are thin plastic coatings that protect the tops of your premolars and molars. The chewing surface has pits and grooves in it that make the area difficult to clean. The sealant, applied to the clean, dry surface, is a physical barrier that prevents bacteria from becoming trapped in the uneven surface. You can enjoy up to 10 years of protection with just one application.
5. Limit Sugars and Carbohydrates
Many foods and drinks are good for your teeth, as well as also being good for your overall health. Drinking tap water, if it’s fluoridated, is one of the best things you can do for your teeth. Some bottled water also has fluoride in it; check the label. Black and green tea is also beneficial for your teeth, as it can neutralize the bad bacteria in your mouth. Don’t add any sugar or honey to it or you will lose the cavity-fighting benefit.
Most people know sugar is bad for your teeth and can contribute to cavities. Unfortunately, sugary and starchy snacks taste so good. Try substituting an apple for a sweet snack. It will naturally remove plaque from your teeth. Vegetables with fiber, like carrots and celery, also make good snacks. Cheese and other low-fat dairy products can also help strengthen tooth enamel and don’t contribute to cavities.
Your dentist will look at the severity of your tooth decay and recommend the most appropriate treatment to restore your tooth.
If you have a tooth damaged by decay, your dentist will usually treat it with a filling. He or she will have to get the decay out of the hole so it does not spread. Next, a dentist will fill the hole so you can use the tooth again. Typical filling materials include metal. composite resin, gold and porcelain. The material your filling will contain depends on the size and location of your cavity and your aesthetic preferences and budget,
If decay from a cavity reaches the pulp of your tooth, it will become infected and hurt badly. In a root canal procedure, your dental practitioner will remove the pulp to prevent the infection from spreading throughout your body. After the procedure, you will need a crown to restore the tooth and save it. Despite their reputation, root canals eliminate pain, not cause it.
When a tooth is severely decayed and your dentist has to place a large filling, you will need a crown to cover the tooth. Crowns, also called caps, completely cover a tooth and give it strength. Without a crown, the tooth would eventually chip or break as too much of the structure had to be removed. Dentists can provide crowns that blend in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth.
Researchers are working hard at developing new diagnostic and treatment techniques for tooth decay. The goal is to catch decay early and treat it with the most minimally invasive method. We’ve already seen lasers and air abrasion that can remove decay instead of a drill in some cases. Now scientists are looking at regrowing tooth enamel and repair teeth by stimulating stem cells, so there is no need for frilling or fillings.
Innovative new treatments usually come at an added cost and are not right for everyone. It’s always going to be easier and less expensive to prevent cavities than it will be to treat them.