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Posted on: November 24, 2021
Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone
It is up to you to prevent cavities. While some people are more to developing cavities, as an adult, you can take extra steps to stop tooth decay with your dentist’s help. We mainly think of cavities as a problem for children, but anyone who has teeth is susceptible to cavities. Adults get cavities, especially older adults. After a lifetime of eating and drinking, tooth enamel can wear thin. Receding gums in older adults also leave older individuals more prone to cavities. The root isn’t protected by hard enamel; instead they are protected by a softer material called cementum.
Tooth decay is a disease that causes cavities. Decay occurs when plaque builds up in your mouth. When you eat sugars, the bacteria in plaque turn into an acid that can eat a hole in your tooth. You can prevent plaque buildup with good dental hygiene and by eating a tooth-friendly diet.
As an adult, you can also ensure you have a dental exam every six months. If your teeth feel fine, it can be temping to skip exams to save time or money, but cavity treatment is time consuming and more costly than having regular checkups.
How to Prevent Cavities
Cavities are largely preventable. Even though some individuals are more prone to cavities, there are treatments your dentist can suggest to reduce your risk. Still, it is mainly up to you.
- Brushing correctly at least twice a day is essential to preventing cavities. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. If you buy products to use with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can be certain they are safe and effective. Replace your brush at least every three months so the bristles don’t fray. It’s important to brush for at least two minutes so you reach every surface.
- Floss daily. If you don’t clean between your teeth every day, plaque can build up and cause cavities. If flossing with traditional string floss is hard for you, there are many effective options. There are pre-threaded flossers, tiny brushes, water flossers and more.
- Topical fluoride, like fluoride mouthrinses, will help strengthen tooth enamel. It can help reverse early tooth decay and help prevent cavities.
- Have a dental exam twice a year. Your dentist may recommend a different schedule depending on your dental health. Regular checkups can identify areas where you are not removing plaque thoroughly and putting yourself at risk for cavities. Your dentist can also find small cavities that are not causing any symptoms. You can have them treated before further damage occurs.
- Consider dental sealants. Sealants are thin plastic coatings that a dentist can paint on the tops of molars. The sealant makes the chewing surface smooth and easier to keep clean. They can provide protection for years from having plaque get trapped in the small pits and grooves.
- A professional fluoride treatment can help if you are prone to cavities. Your dentist can paint a fluoride varnish on your teeth and then you will wait before eating or drinking. It will help prevent cavities by strengthening your tooth enamel.
- Eat healthy. Foods that stick to your teeth, like hard candy, dried fruits and other sugary or starchy foods are not easily washed away by your saliva. They remain on your teeth until you brush them away. Sugary soft drinks are also bad because the sugars can reach all your tooth’s surfaces. Use a straw when drinking any beverage with sugar in it. Foods that naturally clean your teeth, like apples, celery or any high fiber fruit or vegetable make better snacks. Hard cheeses, like cheddar, can also increase saliva production that will help wash away plaque. Drink plenty of water to help wash away plaque. If your tap water is fluoridated, this will also help strengthen your teeth. If it isn’t, some bottled waters contain fluoride. Green and black teas, without sugar, can also help prevent cavities by neutralizing acids in plaque.
Treatments for Cavities
The treatment your dentist in Wayzata recommends will depend on the depth of the cavity. He or she will always choose the least invasive method for restoring your tooth.
Tooth Fillings – Your dentist can treat a shallow cavity with a simple filling. He or she will numb the tooth and remove any decay present. Your dentist can use amalgam, which is a mixture of metals, to fill the hole. He or she can also use a composite resin, which is tooth-colored, to fill the cavity. For front teeth, when aesthetics is important, porcelain fillings are also an option.
Dental Crowns – Crowns restore a tooth’s shape, appearance, and strength. They are tailor made to look like natural teeth and completely cover the tooth. If you have a tooth that needed a large filling, there might not be enough tooth structure left to ensure the tooth does not crack or break. A crown, also called a cap, is often recommended after a root canal. A crown can last a lifetime if you take care of it, which includes good dental hygiene and regular dental exams.
Root Canals – Sometimes, untreated cavities get so deep, they go right through the dentin (the middle layer of the tooth). When the pulp is exposed, bacteria can get in the pulp, causing severe pain and an infection that can spread throughout your mouth and your entire body. Root canal therapy involves removing the pulp, cleaning out the inside of the tooth and then filling it with an inert material. Since this weakens the tooth, you will need a crown to restore the tooth completely.
If your dentist notices a white spot on your tooth, it is likely to turn into a cavity without treatment. The enamel is losing important minerals, but there is no hole yet. This is why regular dental exams are so important. Your dentist can offer a professional fluoride treatment that can reverse the process and prevent a cavity from forming.
If you practice diligent dental hygiene, avoid sweets, and see your dentist every six months, you can avoid cavities. The best treatment is always prevention.