Dentists often discuss cavities and how to treat them during dental visits. You know they aren’t good, but what are they exactly and what causes them?
How Do Cavities Form?
The simple answer is: a cavity is a hole in your tooth, and the hole results from tooth decay. Certain bacteria live in your mouth. In fact, your mouth contains a lot of bacteria and many different types. Medical News Today explains that some bacteria are helpful and some are harmful. Harmful bacteria can form a thin film that covers your teeth, called dental plague.
As dental plaque builds up, the acid in it begins to erode tooth enamel, which is the outside layer of a tooth.
Eating particular kinds of food can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. For example, harmful bacteria thrive on foods that contain a lot of sugar and starch. As the bacteria form plaque, the plaque breaks down the mineral in enamel. To a certain extent, your tooth’s enamel can re-mineralize, and this offers protection against decay. However, over time, enamel erosion leads to cavities. You develop holes in the surface of the tooth and damage can become permanent.
What Treatment and Prevention Is Available?
Filling cavities is the most common form of treatment. This works depending on how extensive the tooth decay is.
Ways to prevent cavities include the following:
- Avoid foods and beverages with high sugar content
- Cut starchy foods out of your diet
- Do not eat before bed
- Eliminate snacks between meals
- Use mouthwash and toothpaste containing fluoride
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Quit using tobacco products
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Get regular dental checkups
A word about fluoride: fluoride has been effective in reversing tooth decay, and fluoride treatments or gels can help strengthen enamel and protect against plaque.
Do You Have Questions or Concerns About Dental Care?
At Hutto Hippo Family Dental, we help patients with all kinds of dental issues. Find out how we can help.