by West Coast Dental
Cavities are one of the most common dental problems. They occur when we fail to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that create acids. It’s these acids that erode the enamel of our teeth causing areas of decay that we call cavities. Unless they are treated, cavities can extend into the middle layers of the tooth causing severe pain, infection and the potential loss of your tooth. Although some people are more at risk of cavities than others, the good news is that everyone can take steps to protect their teeth.
Am I at Risk of Getting a Cavity?
There are some factors that can significantly increase your risk of getting a cavity. If you have any of the following, you may be more likely to experience dental problems including areas of decay on your teeth:
- Poor plaque control
- Consuming excessive sugary or acidic foods or drinks
- Orthodontic braces or clear aligners treatment
- Damaged teeth
- Dry mouth
Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Cavities can cause very specific symptoms. Recognizing these is important so that you can schedule a prompt appointment with your dentist for treatment before the cavity and the symptoms it is causing worsen. Some of the signs to look out for include: bad breath, dental pain (especially after eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet), pain when biting down and visible dark spots or holes on your teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, speak to your dentist to schedule an examination as soon as possible.
How to Prevent Cavities: 6 Tips
If you’ve not got a cavity yet, you’ll want to do everything that you can to keep it that way. If you do have dental decay, you’ll be pleased to know that the same advice can prevent your cavity from worsening and stop more from developing.
1. Brush and Floss Your Teeth Properly
One of the best cavity prevention techniques is to brush and floss your teeth properly. We know that cavities are more likely if you have poor plaque control, and brushing and flossing are the actions needed to remove plaque from the teeth before the bacteria have time to produce the acids that destroy tooth enamel. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice every day and flossing daily. Use fluoride toothpaste or consider using fluoride treatment to help remineralize your teeth and make them stronger and more resilient to plaque damage.
2. Avoid Sugary and Acidic Foods and Drinks
It’s sugars in the food and drink we consume that cause the bacteria found naturally in our mouths to release the acids that attack our tooth enamel. Meanwhile, foods and drinks that are acidic accelerate the process of erosion which makes our teeth even more vulnerable to decay. Although brushing and flossing is designed to remove plaque before this can happen, avoiding foods and drinks that are bad for your teeth can significantly reduce your risk of developing a cavity.
3. Chew Sugar-free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is one habit that is very good for your oral health and can help to prevent cavities. This is because the action of chewing increases the amount of saliva your body produces. It can help to neutralize and wash away plaque acids before they can damage your teeth. Choose gum that is sugar-free, and chew after meals to minimize its impact on your plaque production.
4. Drink More Water
Drinking water is great for your teeth and overall health. Most municipal water contains fluoride which we know can help keep your tooth enamel strong. If you prefer bottled water, choose a variety that contains fluoride for the best protection against cavities. Water is also the healthiest thing that you can drink since it doesn’t contain sugar, acids or even calories. Drinking it with your meals will help to wash away bacteria and plaque. It will leave your teeth feeling fresher and reduce your risk of decay.
5. Quit Smoking
You probably know that smoking harms your body, but you may be surprised to learn that smoking can also negatively affect your oral health. Smoking impacts saliva production, making you more likely to suffer from a condition called dry mouth. A dry oral environment enables bacteria to thrive. If plaque acids aren’t washed away by saliva, cavities are more likely to form. Giving up smoking will benefit your general wellbeing and the health and condition of your smile.
6. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Cavities can occur at any time, but by visiting your dentist regularly, you have the best chance of making sure that they are spotted early. This will enable you to get treatment before cavities cause you pain and suffering or require much more extensive treatment. It’s important to make sure you attend all your routine appointments with your dentist to prevent cavities and other debilitating dental problems.
Cavity Prevention at West Coast Dental
Diagnosed and treated early, a cavity doesn’t need to have a serious impact on the health or appearance of your teeth. If you are concerned that you may have a cavity, schedule an appointment at West Coast Dental today.
MouthHealthy – Teeth Cavities
MouthHealthy – Brush Teeth – American Dental Association
Colgate – Can You Remineralize Teeth?
American Dental Association (ADA) – Chewing Gum – Oral Health Topics
University of Illinois College of Dentistry – 4 Ways Drinking Water Improves Your Smile | College of Dentistry | University of Illinois at Chicago
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Tobacco Use – Oral Health home