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Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone

When you’re tempted to skip your brushing and flossing regimen, do your body a favor and don’t. Oral health issues have been linked to serious diseases such as dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and more, so your brushing and flossing regimen is probably more important than you might have thought. Continue reading to learn more about the causes of tooth decay and the best methods for preventing it.

When you eat or drink, the bacteria in your mouth combine with the food to start the first stage of your digestive process. Since this is essential for proper digestion, you can’t eliminate it. However, if you don’t remove residual food particles and acids through brushing and flossing, they can cause tooth decay, and cavities will result. The acids will erode your tooth enamel, and you can develop a hole in your tooth enamel. When caught early, a small filling can restore structure and stability to your tooth.

However, if you don’t treat the cavity when it’s small, then it can enlarge and require more invasive procedures to fix. Ultimately, you may need a root canal to fix it, or you may lose the tooth entirely and need a dental implant to replace your tooth. When cavities aren’t treated promptly, they can travel to the pulpy interior of the tooth and destroy the pulp and the root. At this point, the interior will need to be removed via a root canal, and you’ll need a crown, also called a cap, to restore functionality to the tooth. Usually, a root canal and cap require a minimum of two office visits.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Several methods can help you prevent cavities and tooth decay, but the initial step is to implement a good oral hygiene program. The American Dental Association recommends solutions that are similar to the following for the best oral hygiene routine.

  1. Regular brushing: Brush your teeth twice daily for the best results, in the morning before eating or drinking and at night just before you go to bed. Don’t eat or drink anything at night after your oral hygiene routine except for clear water. The ADA recommends that you brush and floss after each meal or snack for the best results, but if that’s not possible, at least rinse your mouth with plain water after a meal or snack.
  2. Use mouthwash daily: Daily use of an antibacterial mouthwash can remove any residual bacteria that your toothbrush missed. The ADA recommends using mouthwash twice daily, particularly before bedtime. Make sure that your mouthwash carries the ADA seal of approval.
  3. Get regular dental checkups: In addition to your daily routine, make sure you get at least annual dental checkups. Semi-annual is better, but annually at a minimum. Your dentist can recommend improvements that will help you maintain the best oral health possible, and they may catch minor issues before they become major issues.
  4. Use topical dental treatments: Topical dental treatments can protect your teeth from the onslaught of bacteria that’s in your mouth. Since the treatments are applied in the crevices of your teeth as well as the fronts and backs, they can deter the formation of decay. With good oral hygiene, your topical applications can last for a decade or more, so they’re well worth the investment.
  5. Eat healthy, tooth-friendly foods: Some of the foods and beverages you consume are actually good for your teeth and can aid in the battle against tooth decay and cavities. The foods that are good for your body are the same ones that are good for your teeth, such as dairy cheese that supplies needed calcium to your teeth. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide fiber that helps clean your teeth and provides antioxidants to your mouth and body. Black coffee and tea, as well as sugar-free gum, keep your saliva flowing, so they eliminate bacteria from your mouth.
  6. Drink tap water: Although most people now drink bottled water that has been mostly demineralized, there are minerals in water that your body and teeth need. Consider drinking some tap water each day to provide fluoride to your teeth since most areas now fluoridate their water supply.
  7. Get advice from your dentist: Your dentist has spent considerable time and money learning their profession, so ask them for advice on how to improve your oral hygiene routine.

Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist for advice on improving your dental hygiene. Providing you with the best dental health possible is one of their objectives, so don’t hesitate to ask a question because you think it’s silly or the answer should be obvious.

How Are Cavities Treated?

In spite of your best efforts, you may eventually develop a cavity. If you notice a small hole in your tooth, increased sensitivity to hot or cold, or pain, don’t delay seeking treatment for it. Treatments for tooth decay and cavities are usually as follows:

  • Fillings: For a small cavity, your dentist will probably opt for a filling. Depending on the size and location of the cavity, a standard filling will probably suffice, and the type of material used will depend on the location and size of the cavity. A small cavity can often be corrected in one office visit.
  • Crowns: If your cavity is larger, then you’ll require a larger filling. Since larger fillings have a higher failure rate, your dentist may recommend a dental crown, which is also called a cap. If so, they’ll remove the decayed portion of the tooth, clean and disinfect the area, and place a dental cap on top of it. The cap will be matched to the color, size, and shape of your tooth, and it will look and function just like your natural tooth. Typically, installing a cap may take two office visits because a dental cap is a custom dental appliance.
  • Root Canal: If your tooth decay has reached the interior of the tooth, then you may need to have the nerves and pulp removed, and it’s important to have this done promptly. Delaying a root canal can be very serious, so don’t do that. If you need a root canal, your dentist will remove the decayed part, clean and disinfect the area, seal the root, and then fill the canal with gutta-percha. Then they’ll place the cap on the tooth. Caps are custom-made to match the size, shape, and shade of your tooth, so you may require two or three office visits to have a root canal and cap.

In spite of all your efforts, you may develop a cavity. If this happens, get it treated promptly since this will be the least painful and least invasive. New and innovative dental treatments are continually being introduced to delay or deter the onset of cavities or tooth decay. If you notice a problem, seek professional treatment without delay. By eating healthy, using good oral hygiene practices, and having regular dental checkups, your teeth can last you throughout your life, and you won’t need to get artificial teeth.

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(203) 916-1173