Good oral hygiene starts at home, but everyone can benefit from visiting their dentist for regular exams and cleanings. Take cavities or tooth decay as an example. They are a common dental issue affecting people of all ages, from small children to older adults.
Cavities occur from the buildup of plaque on teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that produce acids that weaken tooth enamel, leading to decay. You can reverse cavities when caught in the early stages with good dental hygiene practices.
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a hole that forms in your tooth due to tooth decay. Our teeth have a hard outer protective layer called enamel. When the enamel breaks down, it can cause a hole or cavity in your tooth. Cavities that develop in childhood are known as early childhood tooth decay, but anyone can get them.
How Do Cavities Form?
Cavities form when we consume sugary foods and drinks that leave behind plaque on our teeth. Plaque is a sticky, colourless film that forms on our teeth. When bacteria and sugars mix, they produce acid. This acid can erode the hard enamel on our teeth.
Over time, the acid can penetrate deeper into the tooth, causing a cavity to form. People with receding gums are at a higher risk of developing cavities near the tooth root. You can also get a cavity around the edges of a filling.
Early tooth decay can appear as a white spot, a sign of mineral loss. A cavity can look like dark or brown spots. Your dentist may monitor small cavities, suggest better oral hygiene practices, or fill the cavity. Without treatment, a cavity can get bigger, become painful, and lead to your tooth breaking or tooth loss.
If this happens, you may need restorative dental care to fill the cavity or replace the missing tooth. With larger cavities, the bacteria can infect the soft tissue inside the tooth, and your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment.
Is It Possible to Reverse a Cavity?
Cavities can’t heal naturally, and when tooth decay sets in, it eats away at the enamel. The good news is that you can reverse early-stage cavities or tooth decay with proper oral care and regular visits to the dentist for checkups.
When a cavity is in its early stages, minerals from your saliva and fluoride can repair the enamel. Fluoride is a mineral that can help rebuild or remineralize the enamel on your teeth, making them stronger and protecting them from further decay. Regular dental visits can identify cavities in their early stages and help you prevent them from getting worse.
How to Prevent Cavities?
Preventing cavities requires adopting good dental hygiene habits to keep your teeth healthy and prevent further damage to your teeth.
Brush Twice Daily
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from your teeth and protect them from decay. Brush 30 minutes after eating, as acid levels are high and can damage the enamel on your teeth. Waiting before you brush also lets your saliva wash away food particles and normalize pH levels in your mouth.
Flossing helps clean out the spaces between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. It helps remove food particles and plaque from your mouth, reducing the risk of cavities. Flossing is necessary as brushing cleans only two-thirds of the tooth’s surface.
Limit Sugar Intake
Sugary foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay, so limit your intake. If you consume something sugary, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum. Opt for teeth-friendly snacks, such as veggies, nuts, or cheese.
Drinking water throughout the day promotes saliva production, which helps to neutralize the acids produced by cavity-causing bacteria. A dry mouth can speed up the development of cavities from lingering sugars and acid in the mouth.
Visit Your Dentist
Regular visits to your dentist can help catch cavities in their early stages, prevent them from getting worse, and provide treatment as necessary. You can receive a fluoride treatment, such as fluoride gel or varnish, at the end of your dental cleaning appointment.
Another effective way to prevent cavities is by using dental sealants. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth or molars, where cavities are most likely to develop. The sealant covers the grooves and small pits of the teeth, creating a barrier that protects against decay.
Tooth Decay Prevention in Simcoe County
Taking care of your teeth is critical to preventing tooth decay and cavities. With proper dental hygiene, you can reverse early-stage cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to tooth loss and other dental problems. Visit your dentist regularly to protect your teeth and keep them healthy for years.
If you notice any spots or discolouration of teeth or experience pain, book an appointment with Hill Top Dental Centre to identify the cause before it progresses.