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Tips to Prevent Cavities

Do you believe your teeth are in good health because they don’t hurt? Unless you actively practice good dental care, you are at risk for cavities and other dental problems. Cavities are tooth decay, which you can do a lot to prevent from developing as an adult. Heredity, medications and certain medical problems play a role in how susceptible you are to cavities. Nevertheless, a dentist can help you compensate for these issues.

Cavities form when we have plaque on our teeth (which everyone does) and eat starches and sugars. The bacteria in plaque feed on carbohydrates and produce an acid that erodes tooth enamel. Cavities start out as small holes, but the decay can spread without treatment.

How to Decrease Your Likelihood of Getting a Cavity

Even if your dentist tells you that you have a high risk for cavities, you can significantly reduce your risk by:

1. Brush Correctly

Brush your teeth every morning and evening at the very least. It takes a full two minutes the brush the front, back and tops of teeth. When you brush, hold your soft bristle brush at a 45-degree angle and use a fluoride toothpaste. Change your toothbrush at least twice a year and make sure you store it upright so it dries thoroughly between uses. Wet toothbrushes can harbor bacteria.

2. Floss Every Morning or Evening

You can floss in the morning or evening, as long as you do it at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and bits of food trapped between your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Only three out of every 10 people floss daily, which is bad because when adults get cavities, it’s usually between their teeth. If you have trouble using string floss, so you don’t floss as much as you should, ask your dentist about effective alternatives.

3. Have a Routine Dental Exam Twice a Year

You won’t notice if a cavity is forming. Small cavities are usually painless, and if your dentist can catch it early, the decay won’t spread. Cavities that grow unchecked can reach the inner layers of your tooth and cause severe pain. If you’re prone to getting cavities, your dentist can make suggestions about how to reduce your risk.

4. Consider a Fluoride Treatment

If you are at a moderate or high risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend a fluoride varnish. This offers concentrated fluoride to your tooth enamel and helps protect against cavities by making the tooth enamel stronger. It’s a simple, painless treatment and you only have to wait 30 minutes before you can eat or drink.

5. Ask Your Dentist about Sealants

Dental sealants help prevent cavities for both children and adults. Dentists apply sealants to the chewing surfaces of clean back teeth. The coating smooths out the top of the tooth, which is difficult to keep clean with its many pits and uneven surface. Sealants can last from five to 10 years.

6. Eat a Tooth-Friendly Diet

To prevent cavities, what you eat is important. You can eat foods with calcium and phosphorus to add minerals to your tooth enamel. Good choices include Swiss and cheddar cheeses, chicken and nuts. Eating crunchy vegetables, like raw carrots and celery, and fruits, like apples, help remove plaque from your teeth with their natural cleaning properties. Drinking plenty of tap water, if your water supply is fluoridated, also helps prevent cavities.

Foods you should avoid include ones high in sugar and starch. For many people, it’s hard to avoid some snacks, like potato chips, soft drinks or cookies, entirely. Brush after eating sweets and starchy foods, especially ones that are more likely to stick to your teeth. If you cannot brush, rinse your mouth out with water or chew a piece of sugarless gum.

7. Talk to Your Dentist

Do not wait until you have a problem to develop a relationship with your dentist. It’s vital that you approach them as an integral partner in caring for your teeth. They have lots of experience fixing and preventing problems. It’s better to ask your questions before they present as dental issues that require time and money to fix.

Cavity Treatments

There are several treatment options available to address cavities. Your dentist will recommend one depending on the severity of the cavity. Whichever option the dentist recommends, rest assured, it will not hurt. He or she will numb the area before treating your cavity.

Fillings

Fillings are the most common treatment for cavities. When you have a hole in your tooth, your dentist will have to remove the decay to keep it from spreading. He or she will use one of several different materials to fill the cavity. Most times, dentists will suggest tooth colored composite resin fillings for teeth that show when you talk or smile. They will likely suggest a more durable material, like a metal, for cavities in back teeth.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are also known as caps since they cap a tooth surrounding it on all sides. If you have a large cavity in a tooth and your dentist has to remove a lot of the tooth structure, the tooth becomes weak. It’ will be vulnerable to cracking without the strength a crown offers. Crowns are custom made to resemble your natural teeth. Typically, you would get a porcelain or porcelain over metal crown, depending on your preference and which tooth is affected.

Root Canal Procedures

Teeth have three layers; the enamel, the dentin and the pulp. When a cavity reaches the dentin, you will experience pain. If the decay reaches the pulp, it is exceedingly painful. When this happens, your dentist will have to do a root canal procedure and remove the pulp. He or she will fill the tooth with a large filling and then put a crown over the tooth.

Researchers are looking into new and innovative ways to treat cavities. One study published in Scientific Reports show how scientists are working on ways to stimulate stem cells in the tooth’s pulp to help them regrow tooth structure lost to decay. Despite this and other innovations, prevention is still the best way to avoid needing cavity treatment.

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