Steps to prevent tooth decay

Simply put, a dental cavity is a hole in a tooth.  Cavities are the result of a tooth decay process that happens over time. Cavities are also sometimes called dental caries. Hundreds of different types of bacteria live in our mouths and on our teeth, tongue and gums. Some of this bacteria is beneficial, but some is harmful and can lead to tooth decay. Bad bacteria uses the sugars and starches in the foods that we eat to produce mouth acids that negatively affect teeth.

The minerals in our saliva – like calcium and phosphate – and the fluoride in our drinking water and our toothpaste help repair enamel and to fight these acids and re-mineralize our teeth when acid tries to cause weakness.   When a tooth is exposed to acid repeatedly, a white spot may develop. This is a warning sign that attention is needed.  Those spots can eventually lead to decay and a bigger area of concern. The white spot means that minerals have been lost in that area.  

At this point, decay is preventable. Enamel can repair itself with minerals from saliva or fluoride from toothpaste. But if left unchecked, more minerals will be lost and the enamel will be destroyed forming a cavity that must be repaired by a dentist with a filling.  The tooth cannot self-correct at this point.

What can you do?
Don’t forget about fluoride. Fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste and mouthwashes prevents mineral loss and replaces lost minerals on teeth and in the mouth. It also reduces the ability of mouth bacteria to create damaging acids. 

Watch what you eat and how often you eat.  A steady diet of cola, coffee, bread, cookies, crackers and other acidic drinks or starchy foods can quickly lead to tooth decay.  Limit between meal snacks not only for your waistline, but also to allow teeth a respite from the acid that is created when bacteria feed on these snacks and drinks.

Brush and floss your teeth, especially before bed.  Saliva flow decreases at night leaving the mouth in a weakened state. Be sure you don’t eat sugary treats right before bed, and if you do indulge, be sure to brush thoroughly. And of course, brush in the morning before you head out the door, and after lunch, too, if you can fit it in.

Visit the dentist regularly. Regular visits to your dentist for routine cleaning and checkups can help keep your teeth in good shape.  Not only will this keep your teeth clean, your dentist can help you any areas that need extra careful brushing.  You will also be able to keep tabs on any areas of concern and stay ahead of any potential problems.

If you do have a cavity: what you need to know

Sometimes you end up with a cavity despite your best efforts of brushing and flossing. Medications, medical conditions and other factors can lead to tooth decay, despite our best efforts.  If you’re experiencing tooth pain and suspect a cavity, or if you’ve confirmed a cavity with you dentist, know that the situation can be corrected and further damage can be prevented.  Your dental health care provider is experienced in handling a wide variety of dental concerns.

Many cavity fillings use a dental injection or dental shot to numb the discomfort of the tooth drilling and cavity filling process. Some people have more anxiety about the shot than the cavity repair!  Did you know that there are now tools available to completely eliminate the fear of needles associated with dental injections?  The DentalVibe tool completely eliminates the discomfort associated with dental shots.   By taking the discomfort out of the dental injection process, you can be confident that if you need a cavity filled, the entire experience will be without pain and discomfort.  The dental injection means cavity filling will not be painful, and the Dental Vibe tool means that the injection will not be uncomfortable, either.

Don’t be afraid to go to the dentist to handle your tooth pain and tooth decay concerns.  And if you have anxiety about cavities, dental work or any dental procedure, please speak to your dental care provider. They have a variety of medications and tools at their disposal to help you have a pain-free and anxiety-free dental care is experience.  Taking care of your teeth and your mouth is important.  Correct dental care can help prevent future dental and overall health concerns. If you’re worried about dental injections, talk to you dentist about Dental Vibe. But don’t be afraid to make the call.  Pain-free and anxiety-free dental care can be yours!

To learn more about painless dental procedures, visit dentalvibe.com to find a DentalVibe dentist near you.

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