Cavities are perhaps the most common dental issue. Almost everyone will experience a cavity at some point in their life. Thankfully, though, cavities are also very easy to treat and prevent! Keep reading below to learn more about what cavities are and how you can take steps to take great care of your teeth and help prevent cavities.
What is a Cavity?
Essentially, a cavity is a hole in your tooth. They are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that have developed into tiny openings or holes. Cavities can form in many places, but they are most commonly formed on the tops of your teeth where you bite or in between your teeth where food often gets stuck.
Cavities will not go away on their own, and need to be filled by your dentist. If cavities are left untreated, they can cause sensitivity, pain, and infections, and if they become very serious, they may even cause you to lose the tooth.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities develop when your tooth’s enamel is repeatedly exposed to acid attacks. These acid attacks come from the acid in the plaque that forms on your teeth over the course of the day. Every time you eat, the sugars and starches in your food react with the bacteria in your mouth and form plaque. The acids in the plaque attack and remove minerals in your tooth’s hard, outer enamel. At first, a white spot may appear where minerals have been lost, and while the tooth decay can still be reversed at this point, if the process continues, more minerals are lost and eventually the enamel is weakened and destroyed, forming a cavity.
How to Prevent Cavities
There are steps you can take to prevent cavities though, and many of them are very simple!
1. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss every day.
This is the most important thing you can do to prevent any sort of dental issue! Cavities are caused when plaque builds up on your teeth and attacks your enamel. If you brush your teeth twice a day you prevent this plaque from building up too much and help protect your teeth from cavities.
When you brush your teeth, make sure you are using a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps your enamel rebuild any minerals that plaque and acid have worn down, reversing early tooth decay and helping to prevent cavities.
Equally as important as brushing your teeth, is making sure to floss daily! Food often gets stuck between your teeth, and these little crevices can’t be easily reached by your toothbrush, so it is important that you floss to remove it. Mouthwash is another way to clean out small cracks that your toothbrush can’t reach. Again, make sure it is a fluoride mouthwash so it is as effective as possible!
2. Cut back on sugary and acidic food and drinks.
As the food we eat is the biggest contributor to the formation of cavities, changing up the things you eat can also be a key part of preventing them. Frequently snacking on sugary or starchy food leaves cavity-causing acids on your teeth. Try to reduce the amount of sugary snacks you have, and replace them with fruits and veggies. This is not only a great thing to do for your dental health, but for your overall health!
Drinking plain water can also help to prevent cavities. Water can wash away some of the build up left on your teeth by the other things you have been eating or drinking. In addition, many cities add fluoride to their public water supply, making water extra good for your teeth.
3. Go to the dentist regularly.
These are all great ways to prevent cavities, however, it is still important for you to go to the dentist regularly to ensure you are not developing any cavities. Many cavities can only be detected by a dentist or a dental x-ray. You likely won’t feel any symptoms of your cavity until it has progressed to a much more serious point.
Make sure you go for regular check ups to stay on top of your oral health. Your dentist will also be able to give you tips for brushing and flossing so you will know exactly what you need to do, and that you are doing it correctly.
Cavities are a very common issue, but they are also easily preventable! Just take the simple steps above and that will do a ton to prevent cavities from forming on your teeth. Along with these though, make sure you see your dentist regularly so you can catch any potential problems early.