Most of us know what cavities are — bothersome little holes that form in our teeth and often lead to big problems. At the Sacramento Dentistry Group, we realize how surprising it is to discover you have a cavity. But this leads us to two very critical questions:
- What causes cavities?
- How do I eliminate cavities?
What Creates Tooth Decay?
Cavities (called caries by our Sacramento dentists) begin when acid destroys a tooth’s protective outer covering (enamel) and reaches its next layer (dentin). That acid arrives either directly from different kinds of foods and beverages, or from different kinds of bacterial organisms. Before caries is seen, you may recognize it by the following signs:
- Sensitivity to hot, sweet or cold foods or beverages;
- Pain while eating.
When not treated quickly, cavity-causing bacterial organisms move further into the tooth, leading to more expensive complications and eventually pulling the tooth. So how can you prevent tooth decay from happening in the first place? Here are some helpful tips.
1. Brush and Floss Each Day
You’ve read it before: “A regular routine of brushing and flossing is your first defense against tooth decay.” That’s because brushing and flossing gets rid of dental plaque — a sticky film that houses the harmful bacterial organisms making enamel-destroying acid. Best practice is to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Plus, be sure to apply toothpaste with fluoride. This mineral strengthens your teeth and can actually restore tiny cavities that are only starting to grow. If a busy schedule or other factors make consistent brushing and flossing a challenge, carry a portable toothbrush and floss container with you to help keep you in the habit.
2. Control Your Diet
Soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks are your tooth enamel’s worst enemies. They contain the very acids that attack teeth and make your tooth enamel prone to rottenness. Even many fruit drinks are very acidic. Use water and avoid these sorts of beverages. And remember, if you do use acidic beverages, wait at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth. You may also rinse your mouth completely with ordinary water. Otherwise, you risk washing away some of the enamel softened by acid.
Sugary and starchy foods, such as candies and chipped teeth, are also a bad habit. Oral bacteria simply thrive in a carbohydrate-rich environment created by these foods in your mouth. If you’re craving candies, healthy foods (like fruit and vegetables) are a terrific substitute.
If you can’t avoid eating candies or sugary desserts, make sure to brush your teeth afterwards to remove as much of the food and sugar from your teeth as possible. If you forget a toothbrush, at least rinse your mouth out with ordinary water or mouthrinse.
Another idea: use sugar-free gum. This causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which assists in washing away sugar (and acid) from the teeth.
3. Regularly Scheduled LAkeside Family Dentistry Visits
When you visit Lakeside Family Dentistry for regular professional oral cleanings, your Anderson dental hygienist cleans areas of your teeth that you simply can’t reach through normal brushing and flossing. We investigate for advanced indicators of tooth decay and correct any complications. We also recommend additional treatments to prevent tooth decay if your situation calls for it, including dental sealants, in-office fluoride treatments, or special mouthwashes.
So when was your last dental appointment?
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