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Posted on: September 14, 2021
Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone
When you’re occasionally tempted to skip your daily oral hygiene routine, resist the temptation and brush and floss the way you usually do. This is especially important at night when the bacteria and acids in your mouth will be attacking your teeth for the next eight hours or so.
Many people don’t realize the importance of good oral hygiene and how it affects both their physical and oral health. Understanding the role of good oral hygiene in your body is key to understanding the importance of good oral hygiene practices. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to severe physical issues such as diabetes, hypertension, dementia, and premature death, so it’s imperative to maintain good oral health.
When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth combine with the food and start the digestive process. When the acid isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, the acid remains on the teeth and will start to attack your tooth enamel. Eventually, a small hole may form, and this is the beginning of a cavity. If treated promptly, your dentist can place a small filling in the tooth, and it will be functional once again.
If not treated promptly, however, the cavity can grow and cause more extensive problems. If you have a large cavity, you may need a crown, but if the decay has extended into the tooth’s pulp, you may need a root canal and a crown. Using good oral hygiene practices can prevent cavities from forming and the decay from spreading, so if you’re tempted to skip on your oral hygiene regimen, especially at night, resist the temptation.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
The best method for preventing cavities and tooth decay is dedication to your good oral hygiene practices. The American Dental Association has guidelines similar to the following, but at a minimum, you should follow these practices:
- Regular brushing: Brush and floss a minimum of twice daily, especially just before bedtime, and don’t eat or drink anything but plain water after you brush and floss at night. Optimally, you should brush and floss after each meal or snack, but that may not always be possible. If it isn’t, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with clear water after you’ve finished eating.
- Use mouthwash daily: Using an antibacterial mouthwash at least once each day will help eliminate any residual bacteria that brushing missed.
- Get regular dental checkups: No matter the quality of your oral hygiene routine, you should still get regular dental checkups. Your dentist may spot small issues that you’re unaware of, as well as advise you on any improvements you could make.
- Use topical dental treatments: Topical dental treatments are available that are applied to the fronts and backs of your teeth and protect them from the acids and plaque that are in your mouth.
- Eat healthy, tooth-friendly foods: A healthy diet is as important for your teeth as it is for your body, so avoid fast foods that are full of empty calories and substances that will cause tooth decay. Foods such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables, dairy products like cheese, sugar-free gum, black coffee, and tea are good for your body and your teeth.
- Drink tap water: Although most people drink bottled water nowadays, it doesn’t contain many of the minerals you need for healthy teeth. A good solution can be to drink some tap water each day. It will help to remineralize your teeth and help you maintain good hydration. If your mouth is dry, it encourages the growth of the bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay.
- Get advice from your dentist: When you visit your dentist for your regular annual or semi-annual exam, ask them for recommendations to better your oral health. Your dentist has spent years learning their profession and may provide valuable insight for you.
Are There Good Treatment Options for Cavities?
The very best treatment for cavities is prevention: don’t get them. Using good oral hygiene every day without fail is one of the best methods for ensuring that cavities don’t start to develop. However, if you have a cavity and go to your dentist, the following are the most common recommendations:
- Crowns: If you have a larger cavity, then a filling may not be appropriate. Larger fillings have a relatively high failure rate, so many dentists will put a cap over the tooth. The cap is matched to the size, color, and shape of your natural tooth, and it will restore functionality to the tooth.
- Fillings: If you have a small cavity, then your dentist can remove the decayed part and put a filling in it. Several types of fillings are available, and your dentist will recommend the best type for your needs, and it will partly depend on the size of the filling and the location of the tooth.
- Root Canal: If your tooth is badly decayed and the decay has reached the pulpy interior, then your dentist may recommend a root canal. If that happens, then your dentist will remove the nerve and the pulp, clean and disinfect the area, and then seal the roots. The canal will be filled with gutta-percha, and then a crown will be placed over the entire tooth, and your tooth will be fully functional again.
The above are the most common treatments for cavities, but new techniques include using fluoride on adjacent teeth to protect them from the decayed tooth and using fluorescent lights to detect tooth decay. Ask your dentist about the latest techniques for treating cavities.
If You Have a Cavity…
If you get a cavity, don’t delay in seeking treatment. Early treatment yields the best outcome and the least damage to your tooth and your oral health. You’ll also need a less invasive treatment, so eat healthy foods, practice good oral hygiene, and be sure to have regular dental checkups at least annually. By taking good care of your teeth, they may last you for your entire lifetime.