If you knew your car was going to drive over a nail and your tires would be punctured, wouldn’t you make strides to avoid such an outcome? If you knew your roof was wearing thin in one spot and would soon be letting in water, wouldn’t you actively work to repair it? The threat of holes in your teeth is more present than these: what are you doing to prevent cavities?
What is a Dental Cavity?
Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are areas of permanent damage to the teeth resulting in holes. They are caused by a few different factors, but the result is always erosion of the enamel. The good news is that they can be treated, but it is always better to prevent cavities, even small cavities, before they form.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are most often caused by the buildup of plaque, a clear, sticky layer of bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars that remain on your teeth after eating or drinking. If these buggies are not brushed away regularly, they munch on these sugars and then the teeth underneath. Cleaning your teeth well can help prevent cavities by clearing away this bacteria and their food source, while not brushing or flossing thoroughly has the opposite effect.
The frequent consumption of clingy food and drink—snackables that are sticky or sugary—can also lead to the formation of cavities, as can an undue amount of acid in the mouth. Regularly drinking soda, eating disorders that involve the frequent passage of vomit past the teeth, and conditions like acid reflux all introduce teeth-eroding acid and can result in cavities.
When it comes to cavities, it would seem that simply having holes in one’s teeth isn’t enough. Cavities also bring pain that can arise without warning or when you bite down or consume something hot or cold. They can cause tooth sensitivity and gum disease that causes the gums to bleed. Sometimes the holes are visible or lead to teeth staining, either black or brown or white. If left untreated, cavities can result in halitosis, tooth rot, infection, or even tooth loss.
Can You Get Rid of Cavities?
Despite the body’s marvelous self-repair abilities, a cavity cannot heal itself. The holes are irreversible and will only grow without dental intervention. Fortunately, a dentist can intervene in one of a few ways. Cavity filling is usually the first resort to prevent cavities from getting worse. A dentist may also decide that a crown is necessary if the damage to the chewing surface is too severe.
If cavities have damaged the tooth’s root to the point that the root dies, a root canal must be performed. During this procedure, the dentist removes the tissues, nerves, and the remains of the decaying tooth and fills the root canal with a protective sealant.
How to Prevent Cavities
Cavities are highly common, especially in children and teenagers. This does not mean the battle against them is a losing one; it simply means that our efforts to prevent cavities should be on-going. Prevention, after all, is the best medicine and the healthiest and least expensive way to deal with cavities.
Efforts to prevent cavities begin before the nightly ritual at the bathroom vanity. Start with filling your diet with what the Mayo Clinic calls tooth-healthy foods. This includes fruits and vegetables (which regulate saliva flow properly) and excludes foods that are very sugary, sticky, or acidic.
Arguably the most important way to fend off cavities and preserve healthy teeth is to make sure your teeth-brushing and flossing rituals are detailed and attentive. Cavities are most likely to form on the back molars because they are the trickiest to reach and have nooks and crannies wherein bacteria like to hide. Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss to clean the places a toothbrush cannot go.
Remember that your dentist is your ally in the fight against cavities. Visiting the dentist twice a year will make sure that he or she nips any forming cavities in the bud. The dentist’s office is also a great place to receive regular fluoride treatments, which strengthen the enamel on your teeth as a barrier against cavities.
At Bismarck Advanced Dental Implants, we are your advocate in your efforts to prevent cavities. We have emergency and family dentistry programs for the purpose and offer dental implant services for cases where cavity damage has gone too far. No matter where you are in your fight for healthier teeth, Bismarck Advanced Dental Implants is here to help.