Cavities in the teeth and especially in the front teeth, can be easily avoided and managed. But in order to understand how to avoid the cavities, let’s review why cavities form and what they are.
Cavities are holes in the teeth which form as a result of dental decay. The cavities look like yellow, brown or black patches which can turn in to a small hole initially, and then over time become a bigger and bigger hole. If the cavity is left untreated in can progress to be close to the nerve of the tooth and cause pain and in some situations the tooth will become infected which then requires more extensive treatment. The treatment for a simple cavity, is to do a filling (also known as a restoration) to remove the tooth decay and place a tooth-coloured material to fill in the hole and make the tooth look normal again.
Cavities form when the bacteria in our mouths digest sugars to form acids which then dissolve away the outer surface of the tooth (which is known as enamel). The process is slow and occurs over many weeks or months as the surface of the tooth is repeatedly attacked. Eventually the enamel is weakened and breaks way to form a hole. Once the enamel is breached and the process continues, the bacteria and acids invade the dentine which is the layer under the enamel and often the decay progresses at a much faster rate because the dentine is less resistant to the acid attack.
There are several ways to prevent the tooth decay process and avoid getting cavities.
Firstly, avoid eating sugars too often. It is the frequency of eating sugars which is the key factor and not so much about the amount of sugary food which is ingested. The bacteria in the mouth don’t distinguish between good and bad sugars so natural honey and sweet fruits for example, are just as bad as processed sugars such as those in lollies, chocolates and biscuits. We don’t suggest avoiding sugars altogether, but rather reduce the number of times in a day that you eat them. Fruit is healthy and a necessary part of our diet but the same can’t be said for biscuits and cakes. The less frequently we have sugars the less acid we will produce to affect the tooth enamel.
Another obvious method of reducing or eliminating tooth decay is to remove the bacteria which form on our teeth. We do this with efficient tooth brushing the inside and outside of our teeth and flossing in between the teeth. When the bacteria are left on our teeth and get incorporated into proteins from our saliva on to the teeth, we form plaque which is a colourless film that will form within 12 hours every day. That is why dentists recommend that we brush our teeth twice a day.
Finally, we can make the enamel of our teeth more resistant to the tooth decay process by adding fluoride to our diet (water), toothpaste or mouthwashes. Fluoride works by making one of the components of tooth structure called hydroxyapatite less soluble to acid attack. It is not the perfect solution to avoiding tooth decay but when used with good brushing, flossing, and diet modification, we can totally avoid getting tooth decay. That is why we say that avoiding tooth decay is multifactorial.
We are always available to advise you on your preventive dental care so if you are looking for the best dentist in Essendon, the Essendon dental practitioners at Coburg Dental Group can help you. Just call (03) 9386 1805 to make an appointment.