Cavity prevention is extremely important because it is much more costly, time-consuming, and detrimental to your oral health to respond to tooth decay once it’s already damaging your teeth than it is to properly care for your teeth in the first place.
When it comes to dental hygiene, a preventive approach is always better than a reactive one. This enables us to preserve more of your natural teeth instead of waiting for problems to occur and necessitating invasive treatment. Read on in this blog from Colonial Drive Family Dentistry to learn more about cavity prevention.
What Are Cavities?
A cavity is a damaged portion of your tooth as a result of early-stage tooth decay. When you eat and fail to properly remove all of the food particles from your mouth through brushing and flossing, the lingering sugars in your mouth are fed on by bacteria in the mouth.
This bacteria converts the sugars into acids that attack your tooth enamel, causing enamel erosion. Over time, this will cause a hole to form in the tooth, known as a cavity. If left untreated, cavities will get larger and deeper.
If a cavity reaches the inner layer of your tooth known as the dental pulp, your tooth can become infected and will require root canal therapy to prevent the infection from spreading to the other teeth or through your bloodstream.
Tips & Best Practices for Prevention
Diet - Frequent snacking and a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, and acids is a recipe for cavities. This is because this creates an acidic environment in your mouth, making conditions ripe for enamel erosion that makes your teeth prone to cavities.
For a cavity to form, a few things must be present – sugar, bacteria, and acid. Carbohydrates break down into sugar so you should limit your consumption of sugar and carbs throughout the day or rinse your mouth out after eating.
When you constantly eat, you are putting your teeth into a constant state of acid attacks. It is better to eat bigger meals three times a day than it is to constantly snack or sip on flavored drinks. Acidic foods and drinks will erode your enamel.
Your saliva helps prevent cavities by washing away left-behind food particles and neutralizing the pH in your mouth. If you are always snacking or aren’t staying hydrated, you won’t produce enough saliva to help wash away these food particles. Drink lots of water.
Oral Hygiene - Proper oral hygiene involves regular brushing and flossing. The toothbrush that you use is up to personal preference but you should only use one with soft bristles. Hard bristles are too abrasive and will damage your enamel.
Using fluoride toothpaste, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush in gentle circular motions against all of the surfaces of your teeth for 2 to 3 minutes twice a day. Floss once a day with thread floss. Water flossers can help patients with limited dexterity, certain oral appliances, or tooth restorations to floss with ease. However, water flossers are not effective at removing plaque so this is not a substitute for thread floss.
Many people overlook this step but most cavities are interproximal cavities (between the teeth) that are caused by a lack of flossing. No matter how much you brush, this is not a substitute for flossing. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, which also harbors a lot of bacteria.
Dental Visits - The ADA recommends that patients of all ages attend regular dental checkups and cleanings every 6 months. During these appointments, your dentist will perform an oral exam to look for signs of tooth decay and gum disease.
They will also perform an oral cancer screening to look for abnormal tissues and if anything is detected, it will be biopsied and sent to a lab for testing. X-rays are taken routinely every few years unless there is a present problem that needs investigating.
During your cleaning, food particles, plaque, tartar, and surface stains will be removed from your teeth and around the gumline. Cleanings greatly reduce your risk for oral health problems and leave your breath smelling fresher and your teeth looking whiter.
Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed at the dentist. This is very important because tartar causes gum disease which can lead to tooth loss.
Fluoride - A useful tool in your cavity prevention tool kit is the use of naturally occurring mineral fluoride. This is applied to your teeth at the end of dental cleanings to protect your teeth from cavities until your next cleaning.
Not only does it protect cavities from forming, but it can even reverse tooth decay in the early stages. Drinking fluoridated water will strengthen your teeth and make them resistant to bacteria and acid attacks. If your public drinking water is not supplemented with fluoride, you should increase your intake in other places such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and fluoride treatments.
How Colonial Drive Family Dentistry Can Help
At Colonial Drive Family Dentistry, we can keep your teeth healthy and prevent serious oral health problems that can lead to invasive treatment or extractions with high-quality preventive care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tommy Dorsey.