You just can’t underestimate how important our teeth are to our health and wellbeing. We use them to eat which nourishes our bodies and helps us grow strong and stay healthy. They also create our smile which is a huge part of making a good first impression on the people that we meet. People grow two complete sets of teeth in their lifetimes: primary (baby) teeth and secondary (adult/permanent) teeth. Although they are sometimes called permanent teeth, they will only last as long as you take care of them. The most common threat to the health and longevity of your teeth are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Cavities are the clinical name for when spots of tooth decay on our teeth where tooth enamel has weakened and broken open, creating a hole (hence the name) exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This exposes the inside of your tooth to bacteria which can cause infections as well as creating sensitivity to temperature and touch and can even cause difficulty chewing properly. This impaired chewing limits your dietary options, preventing you from getting all the nutrients you need. Cavities are the most frequently diagnosed medical condition with which humans suffer after the common cold. 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. Leah Romay of Baltimore Dental Co. in Glyndon, MD has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Our mouths are a host for millions of living bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless on its own. These bacteria tend to congregate in places where saliva and food particles have combined to form sticky plaque on our teeth. About 60% of this plaque can be removed by brushing our teeth twice daily. However, the other 40% forms in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line. Some of this plaque can be removed by flossing but a professional dental cleaning is needed to really eliminate it. If not, when we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria feed on the food particles in the plaque that forms. This creates digestive acids that bind to the plaque and eventually begin eating at their enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually treated by your dentist with dental fillings. In this process the cavities are reinforced with various substances. This prevents any further decay by denying any further bacteria and acids access to the weak part of the tooth. It also prevents infections by sealing up the interior of the tooth again. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Romay will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
As with many things, it’s easier to take care of something than to fix it once it breaks. It’s the same with your cavities. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended to remove the plaque that may have formed while also promoting the growth of new, healthy enamel. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and keeping yourself properly hydrated. 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 spots between your teeth.
The most important part of prevention is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Glyndon, MD area, call 410.220.4680 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Romay at Baltimore Dental Co. If you think you may be suffering from cavities or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us today!