Food particles left on your teeth, oral bacteria that feed on carbohydrates left in your mouth, and saliva form a sticky substance that clings to your teeth. This is called “dental plaque.” As the bacteria feed on the carbohydrates, they produce acids that erode dental enamel. The erosion creates holes in the enamel called “cavities.” The process of erosion (decay) is called “caries.” Because caries is an active disease, it progresses until it is treated. Your dentist stops a cavity from growing by cleaning out the bacteria and damaged enamel inside and then packing the hole with a dental filling.
What You Can Do to Prevent Dental Cavities
- Eat a balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates, especially sugar.
- Schedule professional teeth cleanings at the regular intervals recommended by your dentist.
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily, with the last brushing before bedtime. Floss your teeth before this last brushing of the day.
- Use a fluoride mouth rinse. For the children in your household, make sure the rinse does not contain alcohol, and monitor the usage. Make sure they are swishing and spitting—not swallowing it. Make sure they swish with the rinse before bedtime.
- Some people have deep pits in the sides and tops of their molars. These pits make it more difficult to fully clean out food debris with a toothbrush. Children have more problems with this because they are not as dedicated to their brushing. Our two recommendations are to use an electronic toothbrush, as they clean up to 30% more effectively, and to have your dentist put sealants on the at-risk surfaces.
- Acidic beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, and sports drinks erode minerals from dental enamel. Rinse with water or clean your teeth after these types of drinks. Chewing sugarless gum will increase saliva flow and also help clear away acidic fluids.
- If teeth have become sensitive, it may be due to low mineralization. We recommend fluoride varnish be applied to the teeth and that you use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Both will put minerals on the surfaces of the teeth and counter balance mineral loss due to dental plaque and acid in the diet.
- If teeth are crowded tightly together, it is more difficult for you to or your child to clean between teeth. Orthodontic treatment not only provides a more beautiful smile, it also aligns teeth for an optimal bite and spacing. We recommend orthodontics for teens and adults for health reasons, not just cosmetic reasons.
You have control over your and your children’s diet, daily oral hygiene habits, and dental appoint scheduling for cleanings, checkups, and recommended treatments. Our dentists—Dr. Nilash Patel and Dr. Nitash Patel, and our registered dental hygienists want to help you protect your teeth and minimize the dentistry you need. Serenity Dental of Florida welcomes new patients! If you and your family are seeking quality preventive dentistry and you would like to stop getting cavities, give us a call today.