Although the majority of Americans have had or will have a cavity in their lifetime, you don’t have to follow that statistic! Here, we’ll discuss what a cavity is, what causes them, treatment options, and tips for preventing tooth decay.
Early-stage tooth decay occurs when the enamel, the hard outer protective layer, becomes weakened by acidic byproducts created by bacteria as they consume your dietary sugar. Your enamel’s weakened mineral structure will continue to wear away and become permanently damaged if it is not fortified. This results in holes and pits called cavities that allow bacteria to reach the more vulnerable inner parts of the tooth, the dentin and pulp. Untreated decay can lead to serious oral health problems, such as sensitive teeth, bad breath, infection, and tooth loss. Most cavities are hard to see with the naked eye. Because of this, we recommend visiting us every six months. At these regular checkups and cleanings, we’ll check your teeth for tooth decay and cavities using dental X-rays and special tools.
Treatment for decay depends on its severity. Fortunately, weakened enamel can often be strengthened by improved oral hygiene, in-office fluoride treatments, and consuming tap water and tooth-strengthening foods. But when the decay can’t be reversed, the damage will need to be removed and the tooth’s integrity repaired with either a filling or root canal therapy. And if the tooth is not strong enough after treatment, you’ll receive a custom-fitted crown to restore strength and function.
Maintain good oral hygiene every day by brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing every day. Otherwise, you are putting your teeth at risk for tooth decay. Daily cleaning of your teeth, gums, and tongue helps keep your mouth protected from bad bacteria, enamel-destroying acids, and leftover food particles.
Your diet very closely impacts your oral health. For example, a diet high in processed carbohydrates and sugar will increase the risk of tooth decay. Drink plenty of water and consume a variety of nutritious foods, with emphasis on fresh vegetables and calcium-rich foods. Chew only sugar-free gum and avoid tobacco products. Additionally, learn to moderate your intake of foods and beverages like alcohol, soda, juice, candy, chips, cake, cookies, processed snacks, and sports drinks.
It’s also important to come in regularly for checkups and cleanings to prevent tooth decay. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.