Did you know a cavity may be reversed? These small holes in our teeth caused by acidic tooth erosion can actually be prevented from getting worse and require filling. Currently, around 90% of adults have cavities and almost 30% have untreated cavities. However, by taking a few needed precautions, we can stave off tooth decay and lower our chances of getting cavities.
What causes a cavity?
Every time we eat or drink, plaque bacteria break down sugar that allows for the release of certain acids in our mouths. This acidic solution will slowly wear away the enamel on our teeth and eventually lead to a cavity. Basically, the more sugar we ingest the more likely we are to get cavities since there is more of this solution in our mouths.
Can I prevent cavities from getting worse?
Yes! It’s possible to keep cavities from getting worse. We can all reduce the number of cavities that form if we’re aware of the early signs of formation. If you ever see small white dots on your teeth, it’s time to up the amount of time you spend brushing and flossing. You can actually reverse the cavity at this stage since the fluoride will re-mineralize the surface of your enamel. If you neglect your oral care however, tooth decay will persist and result in a tiny hole. The cavity is no longer reversible and you may need a filling soon. If you continue to ignore the cavities at this stage, the hole might progress through the enamel and reach the softer layer of yellow dentin beneath.
4 Ways to Prevent Cavities From Forming
Avoid Refined Sugar
This one is probably obvious, but avoiding sugar should be your number one goal in preventing cavities. Sugar breaks down our enamel and only weakens our teeth more and more when the enamel has completely worn away. Reducing the amount of sugar we take in will also provide a healthier lifestyle and make us feel better overall. We may give in to our favorite sugary beverage at times, but our teeth will thank us later if we minimize these temptations.
Xylitol is a type of alcohol that comes in the form of mints or gum. This unique breath freshener not only tastes good, but also cleans the inside of your mouth. By using just one mint after eating and drinking, studies show you can decrease your chance for cavities by 53%. However, you don’t have to stock up on gum and mints to prevent cavities and usually, brushing is the most effective measure.
Remember that routinely brushing and flossing not only keeps your breath fresh, but prevent cavities from forming and worsening. The fluoride will re-mineralize your teeth and also harden the enamel. This helps the enamel stay strong and makes it harder for cavities to form. If you ever observe a cavity forming, focus on brushing this tooth with extra focus to clean away the bacteria. Cavities will hold bacteria longer since they let food sink deeper into the tooth.
Salt Water Rinses
Occasionally, rinsing your mouth with salt water can help slow the expansion of a cavity. Salt water has antiseptic properties that kill bacteria on our teeth leaving them cleaner and better protected. Try adding this into your oral health routine after brushing and flossing.
Always keep an eye out for cavities forming and stay disciplined scheduling your semi-annual dentist appointments. Anytime you see cavities appearing, use some of the techniques mentioned, but seek help if you experience any pain. This could be a sign the cavity has worked its way beyond the layer of dentin, and reached the pulp where our nerves reside. If this transpires, your dentist will need to perform a root canal or possibly extract the tooth entirely. Never let a cavity advance to this stage and always maintain a healthy mouth. Keep on brushing and flossing frequently, but if you observe small white spots forming on your teeth, stay on alert to slow the onset of a cavity.