They say experience is the best teacher. But when it comes to cavities, the lesson can come at a very steep price. Unlike a lot of other injuries such as a shattered finger, a ripped leg bone or even a busted rib, a tooth cannot repair itself (at least not yet). As a result anything that causes damage to the tooth—like cavities—should be avoided at all costs.
Also referred to as tooth decay and caries, tooth cavities occur when the bacteria in the mouth chew away at the enamel, the hard, outer shell of the tooth. Bacteria form on the teeth over time when they are not cleaned well and often. If these bacteria are allowed to fester for a long period of time, they can lead to creates cavities that can dig deep into a tooth and cause toothaches, infections and tooth loss.
There are several ways dentists treat cavities. One option is to drill the decayed enamel out of the tooth and replace the damaged area with fillings made of either silver alloy, gold, porcelain, or a composite resin, which are all safe materials. If the decay really bad that it reaches the pulp, or inner area of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary. A root canal is when the nerve, blood vessels, and tissue along with the decayed portions of the tooth are pulled out. The dentist fills in the roots with a sealing material. You may need a crown over the filled tooth. Pulling a tooth is another option when all else fails.
All the above mentioned procedures can be quite painful, so the best bet really is to practice preventive dentistry. This is the process of caring for your teeth to keep them healthy. This helps to avoid cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, and more. So what exactly are the steps to take to prevent cavities?
- Brushing and flossing daily: Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day can help to significantly reduce the amount of dental plaque and bacteria in your mouth. When bacteria cannot build up in your mouth, it makes it almost impossible for you to get cavities.
- Eating less of sugary and starchy foods during the day can also help reduce the amount of tooth-damaging acids in your mouth. The decay causing bacteria in your mouth thrive very well in food rich in sugar and starch. As a result, consuming less of these kinds of food will reduce the presence of these bacteria in your mouth.
- Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride toothpastes, research has shown, strengthen the teeth. Along with the fluoride treatments provided by the dentist or taking of fluoride supplements as recommended by the dentist, these can prove a very effective way of preventing cavities.
- Use antibacterial mouth rinses to reduce the levels of bacteria that cause cavities.
- Chewing gum: When you chew gum rich in xylitol it can help decrease bacterial growth in the mouth, thus reducing your chances of getting cavities.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Regular visits to the dentist (once every three months) is very important in checking the growth of cavities. Most cases of cavities are usually first detected by dentists during regular dental checkups. As a result, regular visits to the dentist cannot be over emphasized.
In conclusion, several bacteria live in your mouth, and if not properly managed, they can cause cavities when they stick to your teeth. A healthy oral hygiene (brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day) and regular visits to the dentist, chewing gum rich in xylitol and using antibacterial mouthwashes, are all important ways to make sure your teeth stay healthy all the time.