Continue reading below to learn what causes cavities, how to prevent them and how the dentists at Madison No Fear Dentistry safely remove them.
One of the most frequent things our doctors hear patients say when they've been diagnosed with a cavity is, “BUT DOCTOR I DON'T DRINK ANY SODA.”
What most dental patients aren't aware of, is that it's not just one specific thing that causes cavities. In fact, whether you drink sugary drinks or not, every single person in this world is susceptible to the stubborn tooth eating bacteria that causes them, and over 91% of the population has previously had or has a cavity.
For that, we have over 300 different kinds of bacteria's that live in our mouths to blame. All those tiny living microorganisms produce a biofilm which you've probably heard of as dental plaque. Once there's enough of it, the tooth enamel will begin to wear and that's when cavities are formed. To dive deeper into the science behind cavities view College of Dentistry's 'The true story of why you get cavities'.
Now that you know the basics of what cavities actually are, it's important to understand what can put you at a higher risk and how to prevent them. Here's a list of common risks and solutions.
Decay most often occurs in your back teeth (the molars and premolars). That's because these teeth have lots of grooves, pits and crannies that can collect food particles. As a result, they're harder to keep clean than your smoother, easy-to-reach front teeth. To counteract this, we recommend paying extra close attention to those areas while brushing and flossing, swishing with water or a mouth rinse after meals, and visiting your dental hygiene team at least twice a year.
Certain foods and drinks
Foods that cling to your teeth for a long time are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily washed away by saliva. These are foods such as milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, dried fruit, cake, cookies, hard candy, mints, dry cereal, and chips. Even dentists don't avoid their favorite foods and we wouldn't want you to either. Instead be cautious of what your eating and do your best to brush or swish after every meal.
Frequent snacking or sipping
When you steadily snack or sip sugary drinks, you give mouth bacteria more fuel to produce acids that attack your teeth and wear them down like mentioned above. Try to drink water often to rinse away these sticky foods.
If you don't clean your teeth soon after eating and drinking, plaque forms quickly and the first stages of tooth decay can begin. As hard as it may sound brushing your teeth after every meal is a sure way to prevent tooth decay. If that's too complicated, swish with water or a mouth rinse.
Not getting enough fluoride
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth damage. Because of its benefits for teeth, fluoride is added to many public water supplies. It's also a common ingredient in toothpaste and over the counter mouth rinses. Your No Fear Dentistry team may recommend an enhanced fluoride toothpaste if you have areas of watch.
Dry mouth (common with Mask wearing during COVID19)
Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which helps prevent tooth decay by washing away food and plaque from your teeth. Substances found in saliva also help counter the acid produced by bacteria. Certain medications, some medical conditions, radiation to your head or neck, or certain chemotherapy drugs can increase your risk of cavities by reducing your saliva production.
Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to flow into your mouth (reflux), wearing away the enamel of your teeth and causing significant tooth damage. This exposes more of the dentin to attack by bacteria, creating tooth decay. Your dentist may recommend that you consult your doctor to see if gastric reflux is the cause of your enamel loss.
Even with all the above tips you may still be told you have a cavity. In fact even your dental team who brushes after every meal and flosses nightly still gets them. After all, we are all human! So what happens next?
When you're first diagnosed with a dental cavity, your dental care team will go over your X-rays and imaging in an easy and understanding way for you. That way, together you can create a dental treatment plan that suites your needs.
Once your treatment plan is created the doctor will safely remove the infected area of the tooth and fill it with a Mercury-free and BPA-free composite filling. This material is safer, healthier and visually more pleasing than Mercury containing Silver fillings which is what's offered at more affordable dental practices. See why it's worth not having Silver fillings that contain mercury here.
Now that your cavities are safely filled it's important to remain mindful of what cavities are and how to prevent them so you can maintain a healthy set of teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly, swishing with water after consuming foods and visiting your dental hygiene team semi-annually is a proven way to stand up against tooth decay.