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How Do I Prevent Cavities And Tooth Decay?

What are cavities? Cavities are tiny holes found in the surface of a tooth that develop from tooth decay. They occur when bacteria from food sits too long on or between your teeth and breaks down the tooth overtime. Along with bacteria, there are other factors that can contribute to the formation of cavities.

What causes a cavity?

As we addressed earlier, cavities (also called caries or tooth decay) are caused by prolonged bacteria and plaque on the tooth. Sometimes when plaque stays on your tooth for too long, it can harden above or below your gum line and form tartar.

After the plaque forms, the plaque’s acids start to break down the hard enamel of your tooth. This causes the tiny holes, cavities, to appear in the enamel, or the hard surface of the tooth. Once all of the enamel is worn away, the bacteria can reach the next level of the tooth called dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel and is easier for the acid to erode.

Under the dentin, the bacteria will find the final layer of the tooth, the pulp. The pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels, so once the acid discovers this layer, your pain level will greatly increase. That’s why it’s so important to go to the dentist as soon as you experience any abnormal sensitivity or pain. The earlier you catch a cavity, the better!

What can increase your chance of getting a cavity?

A variety of risk factors can contribute to the speedy formation of a cavity:

  • Location of the tooth (more likely to develop in your back teeth, molars)
  • Specific, clingy food or beverages (for ex: ice cream, honey, sugary soda, cake, hard candy – anything that sticks to your teeth easily)
  • Snacking and sipping often
  • Feeding a baby or toddler beverages before bed
  • Delayed brushing (most effective if you brush right after eating or drinking)
  • Not enough fluoride
  • Age (younger or older people are more susceptible to cavities)
  • Dry mouth (lack of saliva makes it harder to wash food away from your teeth)
  • Old fillings
  • Dental appliance not fitting
  • Acid reflux from heartburn or GERD (stomach acid wears away enamel, exposing more dentin)
  • Eating disorders

How can I prevent cavities and tooth decay from forming?

Practicing good oral hygiene by following these dental tips can help prevent cavities from forming in your teeth:

  • Schedule routine visits with your dentist
  • Brush your teeth right after eating or drinking
  • Try to minimize snacking
  • Rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash
  • Switch your water bottle for public fluoride-filled tap water
  • Be mindful about foods that will get stuck in your teeth

Ask your dentist about treatments such as sealants, fluoride treatments, and antibacterial treatments.

Book an appointment with us!

We’d love to book your appointment for your next dental checkup! Or if you’re experiencing any sensitivity or pain, please give us a call at (574) 269-1787 or contact us here so we can get you in the office as soon as possible.