Cavities are one of the most commonly occurring dental problems. Fortunately, they’re also fairly easy to prevent with a good brushing and flossing regimen. In this week’s blog, we’ll discuss how cavities form in your teeth, and what you can do to prevent them.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are tiny holes that form in your teeth as a result of tooth decay over time. But how could this be? Teeth are bones right? They are, but the environment in which your teeth exist is different than that of any other bone in the body. This is because there are (a) lots of bacteria in your mouth and (b) sugar and starches in your mouth from the food you eat. Some of this bacteria is good and doesn’t affect your teeth, but some of it isn’t so good. When you eat food that contains sugars or starches, these bacteria use them. As a byproduct, they produce acids, which start to eat away at your teeth. Specifically, their hard outer shell, enamel.
If this were allowed to go on unchecked, your teeth would look like Swiss cheese. Fortunately, there is another factor in this equation. Your saliva contains minerals like calcium and phosphate that work to repair the enamel that your teeth lose as a result of these acids. Fluoride also aids in this process, which is why it’s in toothpaste and public water supplies.
This process is constantly occurring in your mouth, and with good dental care, your teeth will fend off the decaying effects of the acid-producing bacteria. However, if you tend to eat many starchy or sugary foods, and don’t brush your teeth to clean these out, the bacteria will eat it up and produce even more acid, which can overwhelm the repairing effects of your saliva. This problem is made worse if you don’t get much fluoride, either from your water (if you’re on a well) or from your toothpaste (if you’re not brushing your teeth.) Over time the acids will break through the enamel and create cavities.
How to Prevent Cavities
The best way to prevent cavities is to make sure your brush and floss regularly. Limiting your intake of starchy and sugary foods is another good way to prevent cavities. But let’s be honest, there are few among us who don’t like their starches and sugars, so just make sure you brush after eating foods that contain them. If your water supply doesn’t have fluoride, consider a fluoride supplement. And of course, brush with fluoride toothpaste.
Sealants are another effective method of cavity prevention. These are often used on your rear molars, which have and uneven surface where food can get trapped and might not get brushed away. Sealants smooth out these surfaces so food doesn’t get stuck there.
About Olney Dental
Olney Dental has been providing comprehensive dental care for residents of Olney and the surrounding area since 1985. We’re conveniently located on the campus of Montgomery General Hospital, and provide care for all ages for children to adults and seniors. We’re also independently owned by our dentists, which allows us be patient driven in our approach to dentistry. Your smiles make us smile! You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube.