What Are Cavities and How Do They Form?
There is no mistaking a cavity in your mouth: the dark blemish on your teeth, the accompanying pain, and misery that signals its presence, and the eventual need for a restoration. Tooth decay is very common, affecting over 90 percent of all American adults, but it does not have to be such a prevalent condition. We here at Grove Street Family Dentistry firmly believe that tooth decay can be largely preventable – and, in certain cases, it can be reversed.
What is a Dental Cavity?
Your mouth is full of germs. This is normal, but failure to remove these germs can encourage them to attack your teeth. A cavity is a hole that can occur in your teeth due to repeated exposure to these bacteria. Cavities are also known as “dental caries” or “tooth decay.” When the outside of your tooth, which is called the enamel, becomes compromised, the bacteria can work its way into the tooth. This means that your softer, inner layers of your teeth, both your dentin and your pulp, may be exposed to bacteria. Once the hole breaches the enamel, then a cavity forms. Typically, a filling would be the next step, if irreversible.
There are many things you can do to help prevent cavities from forming. A healthy diet can help tooth decay from occurring. Certain foods are higher in sugar, which can feed the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria will start to grow at a rapid rate, and they give off acids. Acidic foods can also weaken your enamel, making it more vulnerable to cavities.
One reliable way you can help prevent cavities from forming is by maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen. Good oral hygiene includes brushing your teeth twice per day, both morning and night. It also includes making sure you floss your teeth at least once per day.
To brush your teeth correctly, you want to make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Brush for two minutes each time using a toothpaste that has added fluoride. This can help keep your gums healthy and strong and encourage remineralization of your teeth.
After you brush your teeth, you can then floss them. Floss your teeth by grabbing an 18-inch piece of floss. Whether you use waxed or unwaxed is your own choice, but some patients do prefer one instead of the other. Floss between each tooth and underneath your gum line to remove any trapped bacteria and food particles. You will want to make sure you use a fresh segment of floss for each tooth to avoid spreading bacteria from tooth to tooth.
While you can help do your part to keep tooth decay at bay on your own, you need our help to prevent cavities from forming. We here at Grove Street Family Dentistry recommend that you see us every six months for a cleaning and a checkup. If it has been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, or you are curious about learning more about cavities and their prevention, please give us a call at (360) 659-3200 today.