How to Prevent Cavities on Your Teeth
How awesome would it be to go the rest of your life without another dental cavity? Understanding why cavities form and how to prevent them could make this possible.
Teeth are made from the hardest material in the human body, enamel. Enamel is the white substance the covers all of the exposed portion of the tooth and protects the inner, softer part. During the normal course of a day, people bite down over 4,000 times a day on things that can be hard, wet and acidic. Enamel is the armor that makes that possible.
It is estimated that more than 6 billion separate bacteria cells live in the human mouth. To put that in perspective, only 7.3 billion people currently inhabit the entire earth. 7 million bacteria live on a single tooth. The vast, vast majority of this amazing microcosm of bacteria is either completely harmless or incredibly useful to its human host. Carbohydrates are almost entirely broken down to base molecules by the bacteria in your mouth. However, some bacteria found in the mouth can be extremely harmful. These particular strains are responsible for gum disease and tooth decay, or cavities.
The bad oral bacteria produce an acid that is so powerful that it can, over a prolonged time, eat a hole through the protective outer shell of enamel. In order to achieve this, the bacteria must have a reliable food source and must be left in place on the tooth for an extended period of time. Once it penetrates the enamel armor of a tooth, the acid can readily dissolve the internal parts of the tooth, which results in pain, undermined tooth structure and the complete breakdown of the tooth.
Sugar of any kind is converted by the bacteria to produce the acid. Potential sources for the sugars are many times obvious: Candy, cookies, sweet soda drinks. Some sources seem less suspect but can be just as harmful: milk, fruit, breads and pastas. While the obvious culprits are clearly not good for your teeth or your body, the second group can be both good for you and even necessary for proper health. So how do you eat the food you need and enjoy the treats you like without ending up with cavities on your teeth?
Preventative Mouth Care
The only proven way to eliminate or greatly reduce the incidence of tooth decay comes down to three simple ideas: 1) Regularly and effectively remove the bacteria and sugars off of your teeth 2) Limit the intake of sweet treats and 3) Seek regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Following these three suggestions will greatly reduce the change of suffering from tooth decay and other significant systemic diseases.
Cleaning the Teeth
A final word on cleaning your teeth. The very best practice would be to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your teeth every time you eat or drink anything but water. This is not practical for most of us. A minimum recommendation is to brush your teeth in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after your last meal. The closer to your meals, the better. It is absolutely essential to not ever go to bed without cleaning your teeth. In addition, you should floss your teeth every night. Failing to daily floss leaves un-cleaned about 30% of the outer tooth surface of every tooth. A dentist or hygienist can give you additional tools to aid you in your efforts to remove the bacteria and sugars that can damage your teeth.
At Turner Dental Care, our goal is to help our patients have Healthy Teeth and Gums for Life. Our hygienist, Annie, is the very best at helping our patients understanding their specific periodontal condition and what they need to improve. For more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeff Turner, we invite you to contact us today at (949) 770-3294 or you can contact us online.