You’ve probably heard it from your parents and you’ve definitely heard it from us, your dentist. Cavities are bad and it’s important to prevent them from forming.
The term cavity is thrown around so often that kids as young as three have heard of it. Knowing what they are and why they are bad to your dental health is the first step in making strides to prevent them from forming. Below is a set of the three most popular questions about cavities and their answers to help you gain a better understanding of what cavities are:
What Are Cavities?
Most patients have a general idea of how bad cavities are but, most don’t know what a cavity is. When you eat food or drink sugary beverages, the sugars and bacteria get stuck on and between your teeth. Sometimes the bacteria are lodged along the gum line.
These germs mix with your saliva to form a sugary film of microbes that eat away at the enamel of your teeth. This is called plaque. The plaque hardens and turns into tartar if it isn’t removed. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist.
When the plaque eats away at the enamel of one’s teeth, the teeth become weakened and the nerves inside the teeth can get exposed, causing pain. When the tooth structure is weakened, it becomes more brittle and unstable. Decayed teeth are more prone to breaking and chipping as well as getting loose and falling out.
Untreated tooth decay (cavities) can also make its way down to the roots of the teeth where it can destroy gum and jawbone tissue, leading to gum disease and possible jaw issues.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are caused by a number of different things, with the most notable ones being the consumption of unhealthy, sugar and carb-filled foods and inadequate dental hygiene.
Besides these, other causes include:
- Not brushing frequently
- Drinking a lot of soda, fruit juice, and coffee
- Smoking and the excessive use of alcohol
- Not drinking enough water
- Chronic health conditions
What Are Ways to Prevent Cavities?
Proper dental hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the formation of cavities. A good oral hygiene regimen includes flossing, teeth brushing and regular visits to the dentist.
Flossing should be done at least once a day, though twice a day is preferable. Correct flossing can take time and can be tedious, but flossing gets rid of the trapped food particles between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. When you floss, be sure to floss both sides of each tooth and slide the floss just below the gum line.
Brushing should be done twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush in a circular pattern over the teeth and gums. Be sure to not brush too rigorously or apply too much force when brushing. Brush for a whole two minutes. Also, be sure to change your toothbrush every three months.
Coming into our office every six months for your routine cleaning and check-up is also important in preventing the formation of cavities. When you come in, we’ll give your gums and teeth a deep, thorough cleaning, which you can’t achieve at home, and a comprehensive oral exam.
In the exam, we’ll check for oral cancer, cavities, and gum disease. With our trained eyes, we can catch the easily overlooked warning signs of a variety of possible dental health issues. In the case of cavities, gum disease, dental emergencies and oral cancer, we’ll begin treatment immediately.
Most of what we’re able to notice and catch would have likely gone unnoticed by yourself as you’re not a dentist. You wouldn’t have known what to look out for.
Cavities and gum disease that is caught early can be reversed. We’ll also be able to see future trouble spots where cavities could form if dental hygiene habits and/or lifestyle habits don’t change.
At Mark Helms DDS, we’re committed to your family’s oral health. We don’t want any of our patients to have cavities. When they do, we can quickly and easily treat it when we catch it early.
Proper dental hygiene is the most effective way of preventing cavities and our dentist and dental office staff are more than willing to discuss proper dental hygiene with you and your family.
Contact us today to schedule your family’s routine dental cleaning and examinations and let us help you fight those cavities.