Wouldn’t it be great if you could avoid the dental chair? Statistically speaking, cavities are one of the most common chronic health problems experienced in the United States. As a consequence, the most frequent dental office visitations are due to cavities.
So, you do not have to be a scientist to conclude that you can skip a few appointments if you can limit the number of cavities you have. Here is what you need to know.
How Do Cavities Form?
Toothpaste and mouthwash TV commercials do explain how cavities are formed, to some extent. While it’s more complicated than an army of bacteria that breaks down the outer layer of teeth, it’s not too far off.
Sugar and bacteria that are not removed properly will form a layer on the teeth called plaque. In time plaque will release acids that will slowly break down the minerals in the enamel of your teeth. If the enamel is destroyed because of decay a cavity will form in the area.
What’s Your Teeth’s Natural Ability to Rebuild?
Early decay is when the minerals are lost or broken down in the enamel of your teeth. Minerals found in saliva are used to naturally repair the early decay process and restore lost minerals. Fluoride in toothpaste can also be absorbed and is used to rebuild broken down minerals.
Can You Reverse A Cavity?
Cavities are formed over time when lost minerals aren’t restored resulting in permanent damage to the enamel. Research is still being done to determine whether a cavity can be reversed naturally by adjusting your diet.
But until any evidence proves differently, the answer is no. A cavity can’t be reversed without getting a synthetic filling.
Is It the Same as Reversing Tooth Decay?
Decay is the formation of plaque and mineral breakdown before a cavity is formed. The mineral breakdown in decay isn’t so severe as in a cavity where there’ll be a total breakdown of minerals and of the tooth’s enamel.
In other words, a cavity is tooth decay that has been left untreated over a period of time. Treatment for tooth decay and cavities will differ because cavities can’t be healed or treated naturally by the body’s immune system.
Can Tooth Decay Be Reversed?
Hooray! Some good news at last. Tooth decay can absolutely be reversed before it completely breaks down the enamel & minerals in your teeth. Decay can be reversed in a few different ways:
- Your diet: What you eat will have a major effect on the health of your teeth. Eating food high in acid or sugar will break down minerals in the enamel.
- Floss daily: Here’s a step that’s neglected too often. When you floss correctly, you’ll be removing any substance that can demineralize your teeth’s enamel.
- Oral hygienist: Frequent visits to your oral hygienist will prevent and reverse decay as a proper cleanse can be done & early decay can be pointed out.
- Brush: Brushing your teeth isn’t enough. You need to know how to brush it using the correct technique. You should also be using the right toothbrush and toothpaste.
- It’s in the drink: Good old H2O is always the way to go. Drinking sugary drinks can leave a build up on your teeth resulting in continuous decay. Consider drinking anything other than water through a straw as the sugar will make less contact with your teeth.
See? You’re not at the mercy of cavities. And putting effort into creating healthy habits is worth it!
Your Diet & Cavities
We’ve already established what you put in your mouth will have an effect on the state of your teeth. This is such an important part that it needs some more detail. Here’s a list of foods you should include and avoid in your diet to ensure healthy teeth.
Foods to Eat
- Fruits and vegetables high in fiber
- Dairy products
- Green tea
- Sugarless chewing gum
Foods to Avoid
- Soft drinks
- Cookies or cake
- Fruit juice should be limited
- Starchy food
When Do You REALLY Need A Filling?
Nobody wants to go to the dentist unnecessarily. But how do you know it’s time for an appointment with your dentist? Unfortunately, there aren’t always warning signs until it’s too late. Here are a few things that can be red flags:
- Tearing floss: This can happen if there’s a hole or cavity.
- Sensitivity: If a tooth suddenly reacts painfully to cold, hot, sweet or sour food, you need to see a dentist.
- A chipped tooth: If you have a fracture—even a small chip—it’s best to get it fixed before the tooth breaks down to the root.
- Discoloration: If you see any dark spots on your teeth you need to have it looked at.
- Food getting stuck: If there’s a specific area where food always gets stuck your dentist will have to repair the connection before it results in large cavities.
- Pain: This is usually the only time most people go to the dentist. Pain might mean that the nerves are already exposed so try to go to the dentist before you experience severe pain.
You’ve heard it a million times before. Prevention is better than cure. But it’s true especially when it comes to your teeth. Proper oral hygiene can prevent decay and cavities. It can even reverse some damage that has already been done.
The smallest decay can turn into a root canal if not treated early enough so spending an extra 10 minutes twice a day on your teeth will be worth it in the end. Time invested in your health and wellbeing will never be time wasted.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.