There’s just no denying how important our teeth are to us. We use them to chew food which fuels our bodies and helps us grow strong and stay healthy. They also make up our smile which helps make a good first impression whenever we meet someone new. People grow two sets of the teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Once you’ve reached about 12 or 13 years old you should have all your adult teeth.
It’s very important to take care of these teeth as you won’t be getting any replacements naturally (except wisdom teeth but that’s another story). The most common threat to the health of your teeth are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Cavities are another name for spots holes in the enamel of your tooth caused by decay. They can expose the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within and open up your tooth to bacteria which can cause infections. This can create sensitivity to temperature and touch and even make chewing properly difficult which limits your dietary options.
After the common cold, cavities are the most frequently diagnosed illness that people can have. But what causes this threat to our teeth, what can we do to prevent them and how can they be fixed? Dr. Leonard Hess, a skilled and professional dentist in Charlotte, NC has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Our mouths are a place where live bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless on its own, thrive. These bacteria tend to live on plaque that forms in spots in our mouths that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line.
When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths break these components down. This digestive process creates acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually resolved by your dentist with the use of fillings. In this process the holes or in tooth enamel are filled in with various substances. This halts the process of decay by denying any further bacteria and their acids access to the cavity, reinforcing the damaged enamel.
Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Hess will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
As with many things, it’s easier to prevent them than fix them once they appear. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended by dentists to remove the plaque that plays host to the bacteria that cause cavities.
Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates to limit the bacteria’s preferred food and keeping yourself properly hydrated so that saliva can wash away food particles that help form plaque and feed the bacteria.
The most important part of prevention is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in Charlotte, NC area, call 704.240.5045 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Hess. If you think you may have a cavity or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us today!