A cavity is an opening or hole in the tooth as a result of damage. It is also known as tooth decay and contributors include bacteria, starchy foods, sugars, and acids. Bacteria in your mouth feed off of sugar and starches and create acids. This acid causes enamel erosion and can lead to cavities.
Someone is at a higher risk for developing cavities if they practice poor oral hygiene, eat a diet high in sugar, starches, and acids, and don’t get adequate levels of fluoride. Poor brushing and flossing habits lead to food particles being left behind in the teeth which bacteria feed off in your mouth and lead to the formation of plaque.
Can Cavities Be Stopped or Reversed?
What many people don’t know is that tooth decay can be stopped in its tracks and even reversed in the early stages. This is why prevention in the form of good oral hygiene and regular dental visits is so important. Early detection can allow us to prevent cavities from forming.
White spots appear on the teeth as a result of the teeth losing minerals from frequent acid attacks. This is the first sign of tooth decay and is early enough to be reversed. For your enamel to repair itself, it needs saliva, minerals, and fluoride.
It is important to catch and reverse tooth decay at this stage because if it progresses further, more minerals will be depleted and lead to the development of cavities. Once a cavity has developed in the tooth, this damage is permanent and can only be fixed by getting a filling.
How to Fight Against Cavities
Fluoride – Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water and foods. Fluoride is used to protect your teeth from cavities and can even be used to stop or reverse active tooth decay.
It works by replenishing the minerals your teeth need to be healthy and preventing the formation of acids in the mouth that lead to cavities. Most people get adequate levels of fluoride through their water supply but if you don’t drink fluoridated water, you may need to use a fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, or apply a fluoride gel treatment.
Diet – Since starchy and sugary foods accelerate tooth decay, your child should avoid eating these foods excessively or too frequently. It’s important to reduce carbohydrates, sugar, and acidic juices.
Because saliva works to protect our teeth from cavities, it is also important to ensure that your child has an adequate amount of saliva. Keeping them hydrated by drinking lots of water can prevent dry mouth.
Saliva production slows down during sleep so make sure they don’t consume anything after they brush their teeth at night. Decreased levels of saliva will make their teeth more vulnerable to acid attacks.
Good Oral Hygiene – Young children need help to practice good oral hygiene. Little kids are not able to brush their teeth on their own, so you will have to do this for them until they are about 7 or 8 years old. Even when they are old enough to brush on their own, you should still supervise to ensure they are doing an adequate job and brushing for long enough (2 minutes).
Do not use a fluoride toothpaste in children under 2 years old unless you have consulted with a doctor or dentist. From the ages of 3-6, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is adequate for brushing. Ensure that you are also flossing their teeth around 2 years old or when their teeth start to form closer together.
Dental Sealants – Dental sealants are the application of a plastic coating on the teeth by a dentist to provide additional protection from cavities. They prevent bacteria and plaque from becoming trapped onto surfaces such as the molars by making the surface of the tooth easier to clean.
Prevent Cavities with Preventative Dentistry at Brett Blacher DDS
The best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities is with adequate prevention. Prevention methods include practicing good oral hygiene, attending dental cleanings and checkups every 6 months, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and using dental sealants to prevent cavities.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Brett Blacher today to get your child’s teeth cleaned and checked to ensure they are healthy and free of decay. To learn more about dental sealants and other ways to keep cavities at bay, contact us at Brett Blacher DDS.