Our teeth are vital. We use them eat which nourishes our bodies and lets us grow strong and stay healthy. They also comprise our smiles which is the biggest part of a first impression when we meet new people. We humans have two sets of the teeth in their lifetime: our baby teeth and our adult teeth. Once you have your adult teeth, usually by your early teens, it’s imperative to take care of them as you want them to last the rest of your life. One common threat to the longevity of your teeth are cavities.
Cavities are spots of tooth decay where tooth enamel has weakened and broken open, revealing soft tissues and nerves within. Once exposed this way, teeth can be sensitive to temperature or touch and even chewing properly can be difficult. This can limit your diet to soft food. Cavities, after the common cold, are the ailment from which humans most frequently suffer. But what can be done to prevent cavities? And what brings them on in the first place?
Our mouths are alive with bacteria. Most of these bacteria are harmless. However, some concentrate and form plaque, a sticky substance, in places that are difficult to clean such as in between teeth and below the gum line. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, the bacteria in our mouths dissolve these sugars and starches, creating acids. These acids bind to the plaque and eat away at the enamel of our teeth.
Cavities can usually be treated by your dentist with fillings. Your dentist fills (hence the name) or reinforces holes or weakened areas in your tooth’s enamel with various substances. These fillings block any further bacteria and acids from eating away at the weakened part of the tooth, stopping the process of decay. Fillings can be constructed of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Reid will consult with you to decide which material will work best for your teeth.
For cavities, as with most conditions, the prevention is easier than the cure. Brushing at least twice daily or after meals with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and properly hydrating. A dry mouth accelerates the acidic breakdown of your teeth. Daily flossing clears the plaque and prevents the formation of cavities in those spaces between teeth that are hard to reach when brushing.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in Lake Tahoe and Truckee area, call 530.206.0392 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Reid if you think you may be suffering from cavity, would like to know more about how to prevent them or need a preventative teeth cleaning.