Most of us know what cavities are — frustrating little holes that form in our teeth and often lead to serious issues if not treated promptly. At the office of Rock Creek Dental, we know how distressing it is to discover you have a cavity. But this leads us to two very important questions:
- What creates cavities?
- How do I prevent cavities?
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities (called caries by our Auburn dentist) start when acid destroys a tooth’s protective outermost layer (enamel) and reaches its underlying layer (dentin). That acid comes either directly from certain foods and beverages, or from certain bacterial organisms. Before a cavity is visible, you may recognize it by the following sensations:
- Tooth pain;
- Sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold foods or beverages;
- Pain while eating.
When not fixed quickly, cavity-causing bacterial organisms progress further into the tooth, leading to more difficult complications and eventually extraction. So how do you stop cavities from happening in the first place? Here are three essential recommendations.
1. Floss and Brush Daily
We know you’ve heard it before: “A good routine of brushing and flossing is your primary defense against tooth decay.” That’s because brushing and flossing cleans out dental plaque — a sticky layer that houses the harmful bacterial organisms that harm your teeth. The best practice is to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. In addition, be sure to brush with toothpaste containing fluoride. This mineral strengthens your teeth and can actually repair tiny cavities that are just starting to develop before they become more serious issues. If a busy schedule or other factors make consistent brushing and flossing a challenge, carry a portable toothbrush and floss container with you to help keep you in the habit.
2. Adjust Your Diet
Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are dangerous enemies to your dental well being. They contain the very acids that attack teeth and make your mouth prone to cavities. Even many fruit drinks are very acidic. Drink water and avoid these sorts of beverages. And remember, if you do consume acidic beverages, wait at least thirty minutes before you brush your teeth. You may also rinse thoroughly with water. Otherwise, you risk washing away some of the enamel softened by the acid.
Sugary and starchy foods, such as sweets, are also a bad idea. Oral microorganisms simply thrive in a carbohydrate-rich environment made by these foods in your mouth. If you’re craving sweets, healthy foods (like fruit and vegetables) are a wise substitute.
If you can’t avoid eating sweets or pastries, make sure to brush your teeth afterwards to remove as much of the food and sugar from your teeth as possible. If you do not have a toothbrush, at least rinse your mouth out with water or mouthrinse. You can also chew sugar-free gum. This causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which assists in washing away sugar (and acid) from the teeth.
3. Regular Auburn Dentist Visits
When you visit our Auburn dentist, Dr. Matson, for semi-annual professional teeth cleanings, your Auburn dental hygienist cleans areas of your teeth that you simply can’t reach through normal brushing and flossing. We look for advance symptoms of tooth decay and repair any issues detected. We also suggest additional treatments to prevent cavities if your condition calls for it, including dental sealants, in-office fluoride treatments, or special mouthrinses.
When was your last dental examination? Call us today and let’s make sure your teeth and mouth are in the best shape possible! The office of Rock Creek Dental can be reached at (530) 823-6456, in our office on 3205 Professional Drive, or via our appointment page.