How Can I Prevent Cavities?

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

One thing no one wants to hear in a dentist’s chair is that they have a cavity. Whether you are a kid or teen that doesn’t look forward to getting a filling, or you are an adult that doesn’t look forward to the cost of a filling, there are a lot of benefits to preventing cavities. First, we would like to say, that at our offices and many dental offices across the country, we work hard to make the dental filling process as painless and smooth as possible. That said, we understand why so many patients are nervous about cavities and dental decay. In this article, we will cover what cavities are, how they are formed, how they can be prevented, and how they can even sometimes be reversed. If you live in the Chicago area and need to see a dentist for yourself or a family member, please give us a call to set up an appointment at one of our 8 locations.

How Are Cavities Formed?

You have probably heard of cavities and dental decay, but we want to go into the science behind cavities. A cavity is formed when bacteria in our mouth start to erode our teeth. This starts with a process called demineralization where the bacteria eats away at the enamel of our teeth (the outermost layer). This can lead to holes or indents in the tooth as the bacteria spreads further. Eventually, the infection can get to the dentin, roots, and tooth pulp. Left unchecked, this can cause the tooth to get infected and fall out. Infection can also spread to surrounding teeth. The earlier a cavity is found and treated the better. At the earliest stage, it is possible to intervene with better brushing/flossing and fluoride treatments. A little further along, a filling can help protect your teeth by removing the decayed part and replacing it with a synthetic filling. If the bacteria spread to the root, a root canal works in a similar way where the decay is removed and the root is filled in. However, if ignored for too long, tooth extraction might be the only viable option.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Preventing cavities can be done in a few ways. The most important thing you can do is go to the dentist twice a year. Your dentist helps prevent cavities in many different ways. Professional cleaning removes plaque and other bacteria that you can’t get rid of with brushing and flossing. Dental sealants and fluoride treatments provide extra protection for your teeth. Dental x-rays and exams allow dentists to see any early signs of decay. By going twice a year you are only giving bacteria 6 months in between checkups. This makes it much less likely that a cavity can form and spread. Aside from your dental visits, there are many things you can do between them to keep your teeth clean. Brushing twice a day and flossing every day can prevent food from feeding bacteria in your mouth. On top of that, avoiding foods that are highly sugary or have a lot of acidity to them can also protect your teeth. If you are going to enjoy a sugary food or beverage, brushing right after or chewing sugar-free gum and help remove the risk of that sugar sticking to your teeth hours later.

Can Cavities Be Reversed?

In some cases, a cavity can be reversed. When you go to the dentist your dentist might show you that you have the beginning signs of a cavity. This means that the bacteria has started eroding your enamel and the demineralization process has begun. But if the cavity has not spread to the dentin (the layer under the enamel) you might be able to fix it without a filling. With fluoride treatments and fluoride toothpaste, you can strengthen that tooth and rebuild the enamel. In these instances, your dentist will recommend a special toothpaste that you can use until your next dental checkup.

Family Dental Services in Chicago

If you live in the Chicago area and need to see a dentist, we would be happy to help. We work with patients of all ages at our 8 convenient locations throughout the Chicago area!

Call Your Local Dental Town Office