You can’t argue with how important teeth are. They help us nourish our bodies and grow strong and stay healthy. Teeth also make up our smile which is an important part of making a good first impression when we meet new people. People grow two sets of the teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Once your adult teeth have grown, usually by age twelve or thirteen, it’s very important to take care of them as you won’t get anymore naturally. The most common threat to a long life for your teeth are cavities.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities are spots of decay on our teeth where the outer enamel has weakened and broken open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This makes your tooth vulnerable to bacteria which can cause infections as well as creating sensitivity to temperature and touch and can even cause difficulty chewing properly. This sensitivity can limit your dietary options and cause you not to get all the nutrients you need.
Cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment that humans suffer from after the common cold. But where do cavities come from and what causes them? What can we do to repair them? And what can we do to prevent them so we don’t have to? Dr. Shawna Hoffert and her team at Red Maple Dental in Asheville NC have the answers.
How Cavities Get Started
There is bacteria living in your mouth- most of it relatively harmless on its’ own. These bacteria tend to concentrate in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line where they harden and form plaque. Whenever we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in candy and cookies) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths break these foods down into their components. The resulting acids bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.
You dentist usually treats cavities with fillings. In this process the holes (hence the name cavities) in the tooth enamel are reinforced with various substances. This halts the process of decay by sealing out any further bacteria and acids from accessing the weak part of the tooth. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Hoffert or Dr. Harris will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
How to Prevent Cavities
As with most things, it’s easier to maintain something than to fix it once it breaks. It’s the same with your teeth. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste suggested to remove the plaque that may have formed. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and hydrating properly. A dry mouth accelerates the breakdown of your teeth by the acids from the foods you eat. Daily flossing can help clear away the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those difficult to reach spaces between your teeth.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
Most importantly, you should schedule regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in Asheville NC area, call (828)-358-1925 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Hoffert at Red Maple Dental. If you think you might have a cavity, would like a cleaning to prevent them or have any other dental issues, contact us for an exam today!