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Posted on: November 24, 2021
Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone
Being lax about your dental hygiene and avoiding regular visits to a dentist regularly might not seem like a bad idea when your teeth are healthy. However, it0s not a very good long-term dental care plan. As an adult, you may not worry too much about cavities, but you are not immune to them. Your teeth may not hurt, but you could have small cavities that can cause problems later. That’s why it’s increasingly important to regularly visit a dentist.
Cavities are small holes in teeth that grow progressively larger if they are not treated. They don’t hurt at first, but the cavity will cause pain when it gets larger. The bacteria found in plaque will create an acid that can eat away at tooth enamel and create a hole if it isn’t removed often. Good dental care, like properly brushing and flossing teeth, can go a long way toward preventing cavities.
Cavities are a problem for anyone with teeth. Kids tend to eat more sugary foods and skip toothbrushing and flossing when they can get away with it, so they are more cavity prone. Adults also have challenges, though, including old fillings becoming loose and receding gums. Fillings don’t last forever; they can crack and let plaque in. Receding gums expose the tops of teeth normally protected by gum tissue.
Simple Tips to Prevent Cavities
While these are simple, common sense tips, it’s easy to forget to take care of your teeth when you get busy.
- Brush for two minutes at least two times every day. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, holding it at a 45-degree angle. Brushing side-to-side can erode your teeth enamel, so it is better to brush in a circular motion. Replace your toothbrush every three months to keep in from fraying and not working properly.
- Floss at least once a day to remove plaque from between teeth. Flossing removes cavity causing plaque from between teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. If you find string floss hard to use, there are pre-threaded flossers, tiny brushes, and water flossers that are just as effective at cleaning between teeth.
- Use a fluoride mouthwash after brushing for added protection. It will fortify your tooth enamel and help protect against cavities. If you are especially prone to cavities, your dentist may recommend a prescription version.
- Have a routine dental exam and professional teeth cleaning every six months. You’ll learn if there are any areas of your mouth that you are not thoroughly cleaning. It also gives your dentist a chance to spot any small cavities that can be taken care of with a small filling.
- Watch your diet. Drinking water, especially fluoridated water, replenishes your saliva. Most municipal water is fluoridated, but some bottled water also contains fluoride. Saliva naturally helps fight cavities. Cheese also helps produce saliva. Limit soda, fruit juices and energy drinks, even the sugar free varieties. These are acidic and can weaken tooth enamel. Drink unsweetened black or green teas instead. Sugary and starchy foods feed the bacteria in plaque and also contribute to cavities. Since it’s hard to avoid sweets during the day, keep a small toothbrush with you or try chewing sugarless gum to help remove plaque.
- Ask your dentist about preventative treatments if you’re prone to cavities. He or she may recommend a fluoride application or dental sealants. Fluoride applications strengthen tooth enamel and sealants literally create a barrier that keeps plaque off the uneven chewing surfaces of back teeth.
How Do Dentists Manage Cavities?
Dentists prefer their patients come in every six months for a routine checkup. This allows your dentist to catch any cavities while they are small and easy to treat. While some patients worry that cavity treatments might be painful, your dentist will use anesthesia to numb the area. Treatment resolves any pain you are feeling as a result of the cavity.
Fillings – When you have a small cavity, your dentist will remove any decay found around the hole in the tooth. Next, he or she will fill the cavity with one of several materials, including amalgam (metal), composite resin, porcelain or gold. This will restore the tooth’s function and appearance,
Crowns – Dentists recommend crowns to fortify a tooth when you lose too much tooth enamel and the tooth, even with a filling, isn’t as strong as it will need to be. Dentists usually provide crowns made of porcelain or porcelain-over-metal that completely cover a tooth and resemble the natural teeth surrounding it.
Root Canals – Untreated tooth decay can create a cavity so large it reaches the pulp of the tooth. Since the pulp contains the nerves, this typically causes severe pain. With root canal therapy, your dentist will remove the tooth’s pulp and create out any traces of decay and infection. Next, he or she will fill the cavity and place a crown over the tooth. Without a crown, the remaining tooth structure would easily break.
New Treatments for Cavities on the Horizon
Today’s cavity treatments are relatively effective. However, they involve removing the decay, along with a small portion of healthy tooth, and then filling the hole with a synthetic material. Many new advancements are coming to the field of dentistry, especially in the field of cavity repair because it impacts so many people.
Researchers are looking into using stem cells in the pulp to stimulate teeth’s natural healing abilities. There are other treatments coming soon, including using a fluorescent light tool to detect and eliminate cavities before they become a problem. Dentists are also interested in creating a filling that releases fluoride to the surrounding teeth to prevent excess decay in teeth close to a cavity. Hopefully, dentists will also use pharmaceutical treatments to regenerate teeth soon.
While this and other promising new treatments for dental decay are on the horizon, we know enough about how to prevent cavities. Tooth decay is costly and painful, but highly preventable. Your dentist in McLean would rather work with you to stop cavities before they start rather than treat them.