Our teeth: They do so much for us so we should really appreciate them more than we do. Without our teeth it’s much more difficult to chew the food that nourishes our bodies and helps us stay healthy and strong. Our teeth also help us smile to make a good first impression when we’re introduced to someone new.
People grow two sets of teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Our adult teeth have usually all come in by the time we’re aged twelve or thirteen. Once this happens, it’s very important to care for them properly as you won’t be getting anymore naturally (except wisdom teeth in your early twenties). The most common threat to having a healthy smile for a lifetime are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Cavities are what it’s called where tooth decay on our teeth has weakened and opened holes — hence the name, cavities– in your tooth enamel, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This can cause sensitivity and discomfort as well as opening your tooth up to bacteria which can cause infections. If allowed to go untreated, cavities can eventually make simply chewing properly challenging, limiting your dietary options and making it difficult to get all the nutrients you need.
Cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment for human beings right behind the common cold. But what causes this issue that plagues our smiles? How can we fix them? And what can we do to prevent cavities before they become a problem? Dr. Benjamin Stevens of Beautiful Smiles in Greenwood, IN has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Bacteria, most of it relatively harmless, thrive in our mouths since it is warm and wet — their favorite type of environment. These bacteria feed off plaque that forms from food particles and saliva in our mouths. The plaque that is most damaging to our teeth is that which has gathered in hard-to-brush places such as between teeth and below the gumline. Cavities often form in these places due to bacteria feeding on unchecked plaque.
When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria living in our mouths break these components down. This creates acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually treated by your dentist with fillings — called such because your dentist fills in weakened areas of the tooth enamel with various substances. This stop the process of decay by stopping further bacteria and acids from eating away at the already compromised part of the tooth. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Stevens will consult with you to decide which material would work best for your teeth.
It’s much simpler to prevent decay than to reverse it. Brushing after meals or at least twice a day with a fluoride-infused toothpaste is recommended to remove the plaque that causes cavities while also strengthening your enamel.
Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates in your diet and drinking plenty of water to keep yourself properly hydrated. A dry mouth can speed up the acidic breakdown of your teeth.
Daily flossing helps clear away the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those difficult to clean spaces between your teeth. The most crucial part of prevention is going to your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Professional dental hygienists have special tools for removing plaque and tartar, the substance it forms once it hardens.
For those patients in Greenwood, IN area, call (317) 886-4512 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Stevens at Beautiful Smiles. If you think you may be suffering from cavity or would just like a cleaning to stop them in their tracks, contact us today!