How to Avoid Dental Cavities
Jan 23 2017

How to Avoid Dental Cavities

It seems most days in my dental practice I am talking with my patients about the ways to minimize the number of cavities they are developing. It seems like this is a good article to write to everyone about here. I will try and cover some of the come causes and preventions for dental cavities since most dentists are just as happy to report to their patients that there is no need for a return for a visit for fillings.

What exactly is a cavity?
Tooth decay is also referred to as dental caries, cavities or caries. It affects the teeth by breaking down its structure due to the activities of bacteria. Mainly caused due by a lack of oral hygiene it usually starts with no symptoms then becomes sensitive or painful with difficulty eating. Unfortunately, once you have the cavity, it is there to stay and will progress if not filled. Some complications which can arise from this cavity are inflammation of the tissue around the tooth, tooth loss and infection or abscess formation.

If you are suddenly developing new cavities, then it is likely from a change in your diet, the daily beverages you sip, or a medication that may make your mouth dry.

Oral Hygiene is a must
The goal of oral hygiene is to minimize any causes of disease in the mouth. Yes, proper brushing and flossing helps and it is the best preventive act against tooth decay. An average person brushes for 20 seconds but to clean your teeth properly, you need to invest 2-3 minutes. Flossing daily helps prevent cavities between teeth and gum. Use an American Dental Association approved toothpaste or prescription brand like Clinpro 5000. The extra fluoride can make the earliest stage of a cavity stop when we start Clinpro early enough. Don’t eat, drink or even rinse for at least 30 minutes. I suggest you to use it in morning and night. With increasing bacterial plaque, the tooth becomes more vulnerable to tooth decay or caries especially when carbohydrates in the food are left on teeth after each snack or meal. So it is suggested to rinse your mouth with water or even brush if you can’t use gum to avoid cavities. You can use Epic, Spry or any Xylitol gum or breath-mints after each meal or use it 5 times a day, for at least five minutes. Research has shown that these have special bacteria fighting ingredients that can actually stop cavity formation!

Your Diet says it all
If you have a sweet tooth, then you may need a dentist more frequently. The presence of sugar and other carbohydrates helps bacteria in the mouth produce more acids that can demineralize enamel, dentin, and cementum. You need to minimize snacking as this increases the acids creating bacteria in the mouth. So, limit snacks and non-water drinks throughout the day, including lemon water, carbonated water, and sports drinks. Less frequent and shorter duration – less than 20 minutes means fewer cavities. To counter tooth decay, you can drink milk or eat cheddar cheese as soon as you have a meal. Chewing gum can increase the production of saliva. This saliva contains natural buffers to lower the pH in the mouth to the point where the enamel can be demineralized.

Fluoride saves the Day
Technically fluoride binds with hydroxyapatite crystals in enamel which prevents cavities. A low concentration of fluoride ions act as a bacteriostatic therapeutic agent, while a high concentration are bactericidal. The fluoride incorporated in tablets or drops is suggested as it makes enamel more resistant to demineralization. Water fluoridation is especially good at reducing the risk of tooth decay. 74 percent of Americans are served by a community water supply system receiving fluoridated water.

Sealants stop the bacteria right away
A sealant is a plastic coating which is applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars to prevent food from being trapped inside pits and fissures. This deprives the bacteria inside the mouth from receiving the nourishment to grow and damage the teeth.

Of course, a regular dental checkup is a must
Regular dental visits with a cleaning and x-ray are the best way to ensure that any cavities have not formed. The dentist will check for areas of early tooth decay, remove any dental plaque, guide you to keep your teeth clean, and apply a fluoride gel if necessary.

Tips for friendly teeth
To conclude, avoid or limit in between meal snacks. Reduce candy, cookies, soda intake; if possible keep it for special occasions. Limit fruit juice intake and water flavored with fruit as this has sugars that can damage your teeth. As saliva flow deceases during sleeping hours, avoid pre-bedtime or even midnight snacks for healthy and friendly teeth.

I hope this review has been helpful.

For more information on How To Avoid Dental Cavities or for a dental consultation, contact Dr. Mark Grace or Dr. Tracy Adams at 206-623-5546 or at info@graceadamsdds.com.

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