The importance of our teeth cannot be understated. We use them to eat, nourishing our bodies and minds and helping us grow strong and stay healthy. Our teeth also make up our smiles which are a huge part of making a good first impression when we meet someone new. Humans grow two sets of teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Once your adult teeth have grown in, usually by twelve or thirteen, it’s vital to take good care of them as you won’t be getting anymore naturally (except wisdom teeth but that’s another story). The most common threat to the health and longevity of your teeth are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Cavities are another name for holes in our tooth enamel where tooth decay has weakened and broken it open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. Cavities open up your tooth to bacteria which can cause infections as well as creating sensitivity to temperature and touch. This can even cause difficulty chewing properly, limiting your dietary options and preventing you from getting all the nutrients you need. After the common cold, cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment with which humans suffer. But what causes this threat to our smiles? What can we do to fix them? And what can we do to prevent them so we don’t have to fix them? Dr. John C. Cranham in Chesapeake, VA has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Our mouths are a home to millions of live bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless on its own. These bacteria tend to concentrate, combine with saliva and food particles and form clear, sticky plaque in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line. When we eat foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths feast on these, creating digestive acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at our enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Once a cavity has begun, it is usually treated by your dentist with fillings, a process in which the holes or weakened areas in tooth enamel are reinforced with various hard substances. This stops the process of decay by denying any further bacteria and acids access to the weak part of the tooth. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Cranham will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth and budget.
As with many things, it’s easier to engage in preventative care of your teeth than to fix them once they break. It’s the same with your cavities. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended to remove the cavity-causing plaque that may have formed. Dentists also recommend cutting back on carbohydrates and keeping yourself properly hydrated since a dry mouth can accelerate the acidic breakdown of your teeth.
Daily flossing helps clear away the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those hard to reach spaces between your teeth. The most important part of cavity prevention is participating in regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Chesapeake, VA area, call 757.656.4109 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Cranham. If you think you may be suffering from cavities or would just like a thorough cleaning to prevent them, contact us today!