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Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone

Although many people do consider cavities to be a problem of childhood, these issues can affect adults as well. If you have teeth in your mouth, it’s possible to develop a cavity. Cavities occur because of plaque that can form on teeth. This acidic substance is created when the bacteria that normally live inside the human mouth break down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Over time, plaque can wear down tooth enamel, creating small holes that are known as cavities. Removing plaque quickly and effectively can protect your teeth against cavities and tooth decay caused by this damaging substance.

Preventing Cavities for Yourself and Your Family

Many of the tactics that dentists recommend for preventing tooth decay and cavities are a matter of common sense. Some of the most commonly recommended strategies are listed below:

Use a Fluoride Toothpaste

Brushing your teeth should be an obvious way to remove plaque and to protect your teeth. Use a toothpaste that includes fluoride to ensure the best protection against cavities. According to the American Dental Association, fluoride is absorbed into the tooth enamel when applied by your dentist, consumed in fluoridated water and when you brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Once it is in your tooth enamel, it combines with phosphate and calcium to harden this outer shell of your tooth. Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay in children by as much as 40 percent and in adults by almost 35 percent.

Brush and Floss Properly

You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes after each meal and snack. If this is not possible, you should at the very least brush twice daily. You can model good brushing behavior for younger children by making this dental hygiene task a family activity. This strategy can also allow you to make sure that your kids are brushing properly and for the recommended amount of time.

Flossing removes plaque and food materials from between teeth. Each time you floss, you should use between 18 and 24 inches of floss. Use a fresh section of floss for every trip up and down between your teeth. Avoid hitting your gums with the floss, as this can cause bleeding and damage to these delicate tissues. For younger children, it is a good idea to floss their teeth for them. This will prevent damage and pain that could discourage them from good dental hygiene habits in the future.

Change Your Eating Habits

Reducing processed sweets and starchy foods and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables will improve your overall health. Limiting sugars will also cut down on the food supply of the bacteria that cause plaque, which can have a definite positive effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Making sure you get plenty of calcium and other minerals is also important for building stronger teeth and bones.

Rinse Your Mouth

Most people do not have time or opportunity to brush and floss after every meal. Rinsing with mouthwash or with water after eating or drinking, however, can wash away some of the food and bacteria that would otherwise form plaque inside your mouth. Rinsing with a dentist-approved mouthwash or with plain water is a good way to reduce the concentration of bacteria and particles of food that may remain in your mouth after eating or drinking.

Discuss Options With Your Dentist

Dental sealants may be an option if you need extra help in preventing cavities for yourself or your family members. These dental applications can provide added protection for areas between teeth and around the gums for up to 10 years per application. Investing in dental sealants can assist you in preventing cavities for yourself and your family well into the future.

Treatments for Cavities

Despite your best efforts, you or a family member may occasionally get a cavity. If this happens, there is no need to panic. Your local dentist in Atlanta can provide you with a variety of treatment options that may include simple fillings, crowns or root canal procedures.

  • Fillings are probably the most familiar treatment option for cavities. These dental treatments require preparation of the tooth to receive the filling. This usually involves shaping the hole and removing any damaged or decayed tissue from inside the tooth. Your dentist will then apply a gold, silver, composite or amalgam filling to suit your needs and your budget. Precious metals are usually more expensive than simple amalgam fillings.
  • Crowns are also used to provide structural support after a filling has been put in place. These metal or porcelain dental appliances are constructed to stand up to pressure caused by biting and chewing. They can offer superior protection for damaged teeth after your filling has been put in place.
  • Root canals may also be necessary if an infection or tooth decay has penetrated to the roots of your tooth. Your dentist will remove the nerve endings and tissue from the roots and will replace it with a rubbery dental material called gutta-percha, which will provide flexible support for your roots. A crown application is almost always necessary after a root canal procedure to prevent further damage. Your dentist will discuss the most appropriate ways to protect and preserve your tooth to protect your dental health.

Newer options may also be available to diagnose and treat tooth decay and cavities. Fluorescent lights may be used to spot areas of decay before they advance into cavities. Once these damaged areas have been identified, your dentist may be able to apply sealant to prevent further damage to your tooth and to reduce the risk of a larger cavity and the need for additional dental procedures to save the tooth in the future.

Working with a dentist you trust can help you to prevent cavities and to keep your teeth healthier and cleaner. This can add up to improved dental health for every member of your family. However, the absolute best way to prevent cavities is to prevent them in the first place.

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