The best way to prevent cavities is to understand what causes them. A cavity is basically a hole in your tooth that will continue to grow and get deeper if it isn’t fixed. Cavities form as a result of tooth decay, when bacteria turn sugar and starches from the food you eat into acids. The germs develop into a sticky film, called plaque, that adheres to the teeth. If the plaque isn’t cleared away, the acids eat through the tooth’s enamel, or outer layer, and reach the inner soft layer, the dentin, causing the decay to spread.
If your dentist discovers a cavity during your routine checkup, it’s important to have it repaired. The rotted portion of the tooth will be removed, and the hole will be filled with a material that will help the rest of the tooth remain healthy. Sealants are sometimes advised, for both adults and children, to strengthen vulnerable parts of teeth that are likely to develop cavities, usually the molars.
A toothache is one signal that you may have developed a cavity. Another is that your teeth may be very sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks. You might feel pain when you chew. Cavities aren’t usually visible when they first develop. If you’re lucky, they’ll be detected during a visit to your dentist, either through a routine exam or on an x-ray. Cavities are much easier to repair when they’re caught early.
Preventing cavities is key. Brush teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; be sure to gently brush gums as well. Additional fluoride can be added with a special treatment by your dentist. Floss once a day to help remove plaque and food between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Limit sugary foods and beverages, including candy, soda, and sweetened juice. Use an antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day. For more information about cavities and how to prevent them, please contact:
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