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Four Questions About Dental Cavities Answered

How Does A Tooth Decay Start?

We brush our teeth, floss them, and finish off by rinsing with mouthwash every day. Why? Because we want to keep our teeth and prevent any damage that can make us lose even just one tooth.

The best means of safeguarding the health of our teeth is to understand dental cavities — one of the most common roots of dental problems. Likewise, it is important that we know ways on how to prevent cavities from occuring and damaging our teeth.

What is a dental cavity?

Commonly known as a tooth decay, a dental cavity is characterized by the breakdown of the tooth enamel because of the acids produced by bacteria. The tooth enamel, which acts as the outer layer and most visible part of the enamel, is the hardest and the most highly mineralized portion of the body.

Aside from the enamel, a dental cavity can also destroy the layer underneath the enamel: the dentin. Along with the enamel, pulp, and cementum, the dentin is a significant component of the teeth. However, compared to the enamel, the dentin is less mineralized but less brittle than the enamel.

How does a cavity develop?

Hundreds of different bacteria inhabit our mouth, living in our teeth, gums, tongue, and other parts of our mouth. Not all bacteria are bad. However, some can be harmful enough to contribute to the tooth decay process.

Along with the bacteria, our food consumption is also a factor in the development of cavities. Bacteria feed on our foods and drinks, especially those that are sugary and starchy. They then feed on the food particles left in our mouth and produce acids. These acids, in turn, attack the enamel.

Imagine being punched continuously without getting the chance to stand back. You’ll undoubtedly get injured. That’s what happens when the enamel gets attacked by acids before it can even repair itself.

The repeated acid attacks weaken the enamel and lead to lost minerals indicated by white spots. At this point, the case can be reversed. However, when the attacks persist, and the tooth decay process continues, minerals will be lost. As a result, the enamel gets destroyed — eventually forming a cavity which is permanent damage to the tooth.

How can I prevent a dental cavity?

Fortunately, the enamel and the rest of your mouth can be protected against the attacks of bacteria through proper hygiene. Additionally, you can protect your teeth via the use of fluoride, eating the right foods, the use of dental sealants, not sharing brushes, and visiting the dentist.

Proper oral hygiene

The reminders are already cliché and may sound like broken records. Although, it does not hurt to emphasize it more. Proper oral hygiene is the best prevention for cavities.

Brush your teeth at least two times every day, floss after brushing, and wash away remaining food particles with mouthwash. By following these simple tips, you can stop bacteria from propagating inside your mouth and producing acids that destroy the enamel.

Use fluoride

Fluoride stops the progress of tooth decay by replacing and preventing mineral loss and reducing the bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

One can receive fluoride through fluoridated water and toothpaste. If your fluoride needs are more than what water and toothpaste can give, your dentist may advise the application of fluoride gel or varnish, fluoride tablets, or mouth rinse.

Eat the right foods

Be wary of your food consumption. Eat less or avoid sugary and starchy food. Instead, eat foods that can stimulate saliva production which is necessary for fighting off harmful bacteria.

Use dental sealants

Children are more susceptible to dental cavities than adults. With dental sealants, cavities can be prevented from affecting the teeth. Sealants act as barriers and seal the chewing surfaces where decay mostly occurs.

Not sharing

Sharing is nice, but not always. This is especially true when it comes to personal hygiene. Do not share your toothbrush with anyone because it can lead to bacteria transfer.

Visit the dentist twice a year

Get an oral checkup to detect any dental issues as soon as possible. When dental cavities do not receive treatment, they can worsen and destroy the teeth to the point that restoring them is no longer an option.

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