Dental cavities are one of the most rampant health problems in the world, yet they are also one of the most preventable issues. Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the tooth enamel that are caused by a combination of factors. As with many health issues, cavity prevention starts with individual habits and choices outside of the dentist’s office. Understanding how cavities are formed can give you the information that you need to prevent their destruction.
There are thousands of bacteria living within your mouth right now. These bacteria are naturally produced and are essential for breaking down food particles that are left behind inside the mouth after eating. Almost all foods that you will ever eat contain some form of sugar. The bacteria inside the mouth thrive off of sugar, and they congregate around the teeth to attack sugary bits of food that get stuck between the teeth. As the bacteria attack the sugars left behind in the mouth, the produce damaging acids. The combination of bacteria and acids creates the sticky, white film that coats the teeth known as plaque. Once plaque forms, the acids have adhered to the teeth and begin the destructive work of creating tiny holes in the tooth enamel. These tiny holes then allow the acids and bacteria to seep inside the teeth and attack their inner structure. It is at this point that the cavity (aka hole) has already been formed, and if the cavity is left untreated the decay will cause further destruction of the tooth that cannot be repaired.
It is the permanency of cavities that make them so destructive. However, they are preventable in almost every single case. Daily oral health care choices are the most important choices for avoiding cavities. Flossing the teeth at least once a day, brushing at least twice a day, healthy dietary choices, and avoiding tobacco products are the simplest methods of cavity prevention. Flossing is essential in cavity prevention because it can clean the tight spaces between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach and where food particles are most likely to become stuck. Healthy dietary choices go a long way in cavity prevention because they do not make the teeth even more vulnerable to sugar’s destruction. It is important to avoid frequent snacking and sipping on drinks other than water throughout the day in order to prevent a constant assault of bacteria and acids on the teeth. And, of course, avoiding all tobacco products leaves the mouth – and the entire body – healthier and less vulnerable.
At Pacific Sky Dental we are here to partner with you in cavity prevention. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We are here to help you take the necessary steps to promote optimal oral health!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Raymond Jone, Pacific Sky Dental
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