Our teeth are important to our looks, our health and our happiness. They help us smile, which is a big part of making a good first impression on new people that we meet. They also help us eat nutritious food to stay healthy and strong. We humans grow two sets of teeth in our lives, known as the primary (or baby) teeth and secondary (or adult) teeth. Once your adult teeth have grown in, usually by age twelve or thirteen, it’s very important to care for your teeth because there will be no further natural replacements. One of the most important things to do to protect your smile is to prevent cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Tooth decay on our teeth can cause enamel to weaken and break open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. These openings, which expose your tooth to bacteria and possibly cause infections, are called cavities. They can make your tooth sensitive to temperature and even cause difficulty chewing properly. Cavities can make eating painful, causing you to not get all the nutrients you need. And, after the common cold, they are also the ailment with which people are most frequently diagnosed.
But what causes this prevalent threat to our smiles? When we have cavities, how do we fix them? And what can we do to prevent cavities so we don’t have them in the first place? Dr. John C. Cranham, a respected dentist in Chesapeake, VA has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Bacteria are living in your mouth as you read this. They are mostly harmless but if not properly controlled, they can cause tooth decay. Food particles and saliva combine in our mouths to form plaque. This plaque is the bacteria’s favorite food, especially when it includes sugars or starches. When plaque forms in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line, the bacteria will consume it and continue eating right down through the enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
The most common treatments for cavities are fillings, in-lays, on-lays and root canals. For fillings, the holes or weakened areas in tooth enamel are reinforced with various substances to halt the process of decay by denying any further bacteria and acids access to the weak part of the tooth enamel. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer but Dr. Cranham does composite resin filling exclusively. When a cavity is located in the larger back teeth or in the deep grooves of the teeth, Dr. Cranham may use a porcelain or high quality ceramic inlay or onlay for the best results.
If your tooth decay is severe enough, you may need a root canal. A root canal treatment is needed when tooth decay has caused damage inside the tooth, in the pulp chamber. Root canals have a scary reputation but they are a way to effectively remove tooth decay, saving your natural tooth.
How to Prevent Cavities
It’s often more difficult to repair something broken than it is to take care to prevent it from breaking. This is also true with cavities. Preventing cavities is much simpler, less expensive, more comfortable and less time-consuming than getting dental treatment to repair them.
Dr. Cranham recommends brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste to remove the plaque that may have formed on your teeth. Flossing at least once daily will help remove plaque between your teeth and just below the gum line. Cutting down on sugar and carbohydrates and staying properly hydrated are also strongly recommended in order to slow down the breakdown of your enamel.
The most important step to take towards preventing cavities and all dental problems is to attend regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office.
Scheduling Your Dental Check-up in Chesapeake, VA
For those patients in Chesapeake, VA or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Cranham. If you think you may be suffering from cavities or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us online or call 757.656.4109 today!