By: Shayne T.
If you’ve never suffered a cavity, consider yourself lucky. Dental cavities --or caries -- are holes in the teeth that develop over time due to tooth decay. In the early stages, cavities are tiny and painless and may only be detected by x-ray, but when they go untreated, they grow and can eventually cause severe pain and require oral surgery. Check out the advice below to help you prevent cavities in the first place and recognize them early on.
Dental Hygiene. Cavity-causing tooth decay is perfectly normal, but it may be exacerbated by diet and other external factors. Some people are even genetically predisposed to cavities and may get them despite good dental hygiene. However, brushing twice a day (or even after every meal) with a fluoride toothpaste such as Crest Cavity Protection fluoride toothpaste. Double up the cleaning power by flossing regularly with a product like Oral B Glide, to help remove tartar and other build up that can break down the tooth’s surface over time.
Diet. Keep sweets and acidic foods to a minimum -- sugar and acid have a harsh effect on tooth enamel. In fact, seemingly low-acid foods and beverages can still break down tooth enamel with constant exposure. If you’re snacking and drinking throughout the day, try to curb those habits. Stick to three solid meals and water most of the time. If you do snack, be sure to brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth afterwards, as stuck food and residue from drinks can throw your mouth’s bacteria into overdrive.
Preventive Care. It’s ideal to have your teeth cleaned at the dentist every six months. The hygienist will perform a much deeper cleaning than you’re capable of at home, removing any plaque buildup, which if not treated can speed up and worsen tooth decay. You can also have your dentist perform a full check- up of your teeth at this time, which will allow him or her to detect any developing cavities and treat them early on, ideally with remineralization or a filling. The longer you wait between visits, the more likely it is that if a cavity has been present it will have worsened enough to require more aggressive treatment. If you’re in pain, you’ll probably skip a filling altogether and have to have a root canal or even an extraction. Much easier and less painful to just have those regular check-ups and catch any cavities before they become a major problem.
How do you get your young ones to brush their teeth regularly?