Cavities are small in size but can cause big problems. In the form of little holes in your teeth, they develop when acid attacks your tooth enamel, the essential protective covering for your teeth. The acid may come either from your diet or certain oral bacteria that flourish when poor oral hygiene is present. If a cavity is not treated as soon as possible, the bacteria have the opportunity to move further into your tooth, affecting even the root. You may end up needing a root canal or losing teeth altogether.
If you want your teeth to last a lifetime, the prevention of cavities is rather simple: brush and floss every day, pay attention to your diet, and see your dentist regularly. An alternative option is dental sealants, which are thin coatings your dentist paints on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. They can prevent cavities for many years.
The Importance of Brushing and Flossing
It always goes back to the basics. If you invest your time into a good oral hygiene routine, cavity prevention is almost guaranteed. It is recommended to brush and floss your teeth at least two times a day, every day. This helps to remove food particles and harmful bacteria that stick in and around your teeth. Flossing reaches the nooks and crannies that your toothbrush is unable to reach. Be sure to choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride, as this mineral can help prevent and repair cavities that are in their early stages.
Diet Impacts Dental Health
There are certain foods and beverages, while they may taste good, are incredibly damaging to your teeth. For example, soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, and energy drinks (even the sugar-free ones) contain acids that attack your tooth enamel, ultimately eroding it and making your teeth more susceptible to decay. The best alternative is to drink fluoride-containing water, as it lacks acidic properties and helps replenish your saliva. Foods like cookies, candy, donuts, and chips are also damaging to your teeth, especially if the remaining food particles are not removed through brushing and flossing. These sugary and starchy foods nourish the oral bacteria that create cavities, raising the acidity level in your mouth.
Checkups and Professional Cleanings
It is recommended that you visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings. Your dentist will take a look to see if you have any early signs of a problem developing inside your mouth and take swift action if there is. Your dental hygienist is able to clear away debris in your mouth that you can’t reach with a toothbrush or even floss. Alongside your dental team, you will be able to combat any early signs of decay or disease that comes your way.
A dental sealant is a clear, protective coating applied by your dentist to prevent cavities from forming or stopping minor decay from developing further. Sealants act as a barrier between acid-producing bacteria and the grooves and crevices of teeth’s chewing surfaces. While sealants can be used on adults, children, especially those who have their permanent teeth, gain the most benefit from dental sealants. Children with sealants are up to three times less likely to develop cavities than those without. Of course, sealants don’t replace good home hygiene, so be sure your child still brushes twice a day and flosses at least once per day.