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Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone

Cavities are a serious problem that can affect people of all ages. Even baby teeth can develop cavities that require dental attention. Finding the right methods for preventing cavities and keeping your teeth healthy is very important for your appearance and your ongoing dental health, not to mention your overall health. Understanding how cavities form and how they affect your teeth can help you to prevent these issues before they start. Here are some tips and useful information about tooth decay, cavities and proper dental hygiene. It’s never too late to start caring for your teeth and preventing future issues.

How Cavities Form

Cavities are holes in the enamel of teeth that are caused by plaque, which is the result of bacteria breaking down starchy or sugary foods and drinks inside the mouth. Plaque is an acidic substance that is whitish or clear and that adheres to the teeth and gums. If plaque remains on the teeth for a prolonged period of time, the acids in this substance can attack the tooth enamel to create holes or cavities that require dental attention to resolve.

Brush and Floss Regularly

Practicing good dental hygiene is the key to preventing most cavities. Brushing and flossing are among the most effective ways to remove plaque from the surfaces of teeth:

  • Brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily for two minutes at a time can remove most plaque. Using a fluoride toothpaste is necessary to protect teeth against decay and to create a barrier against future damage caused by plaque. If you cannot brush your teeth immediately, it is a good idea to rinse your mouth with plaque-fighting mouthwash or with plain water after meals and snacks.
  • Flossing your teeth will remove even more plaque and food particles from between teeth. Be sure to floss between each pair of teeth and to use fresh floss for every pass between your teeth. This will remove particles and plaque more effectively. Flossing with waxed floss or individual floss picks can make this process smoother and more comfortable for you and your family members.

Seeking advice from a dentist can give you more insight into the correct way to brush and floss your teeth regularly to prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Fluoridate Your Teeth

If your area is supplied with fluoridated water, you can achieve added protection against tooth decay and cavities by drinking tap water each day. Your dentist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth to create a layer of protection against plaque, bacteria and tooth decay. This can be especially important for younger children who may not be as diligent about brushing and flossing on a regular basis.

Watch the Foods You Eat

While most people are aware that foods rich in calcium and vitamins are good for teeth, the damaging effects of sugars and starches on your teeth and gums may not be as obvious. Eliminating sugary snacks and using non-sugar sweeteners for coffee, tea and other drinks can help you to avoid the buildup of plaque that can cause cavities. Cutting sweets and starches out of your snacking routine can reduce the chance of plaque buildup that could cause tooth decay and damage to your teeth. Not to mention that it will be good for your waistline and heart!

Make Time for Dental Appointments

During a routine visit to your dentist, you will typically receive a full examination of your teeth that may include X-rays and scans. You will also undergo teeth cleaning to remove plaque and tartar that may be stuck between or behind your teeth. This can significantly cut down on irritation of your gums, which is an important factor in the development of gum disease.

Your dentist can also provide you with dental sealant applications. Sealants are applied directly over the surface of your teeth to seal away the gaps and openings between teeth. This can prevent bacteria and plaque from building up in these areas, which can reduce the chance of cavities and tooth decay.

If plaque buildup is a significant problem for you, your dentist may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter mouthwash that will reduce this threat to your teeth and your dental health.

What Happens If You Get a Cavity?

Cavities can occur at any time of life from very early childhood through adulthood and beyond. As long as you have teeth in your mouth, you can have a cavity. In most cases, these dental issues can be resolved in one or two visits to your affordable dentist in Philadelphia. There are several treatments that may be required to resolve cavities and to restore your teeth to their normal function and appearance:

  • For most cavities, fillings are used to seal the hole and to replace lost tissue from inside the tooth. Your dentist will remove any infected tissue and decayed tooth enamel to create regular edges for the hole, which will then be filled with amalgam, tooth-colored composite fillings, silver, or gold. When you are getting your filling, your options may be different depending on where the cavity is located and how deep it is.
  • If a serious infection occurs as a result of the break in your tooth enamel, you may require a root canal procedure to clean out the infected material and to take out the nerve endings that are causing you pain and discomfort. Root canals remove the interior tissues and nerves of your tooth and replace them with a material called gutta-percha, which is rubbery and provides protection against further infection and decay inside your tooth. Your dentist will usually apply a crown over the affected tooth to provide added structural support for the damaged and fragile tooth.
  • Crowns may be applied as an added protective layer over teeth that have larger cavities. These dental devices are also called caps because they fit over teeth like a cap to supplement the enamel that protects and supports your teeth.

Working with your dentist to keep your teeth and gums healthy can reduce your risk of cavities and other dental issues. This can set the stage for many years of brighter smiles for you and your family.

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