Cavities: What Causes Them and How to Prevent Them

If there is one thing that most people dread hearing during a dental visit, it is that a cavity has been found. While cavities and subsequent filling treatment may not be especially pleasant, with proper care, you will be able to successfully avoid cavities in your teeth. Here at Oakton Dental Center, we are here to help you manage every aspect of your dental health. If you are confused about exactly what cavities are and wondering what sort of precautions you need to take in order to avoid them, continue reading.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are small holes or divets in the enamel of the teeth that occur due to decay. They are the product of the erosion and wearing away of tooth enamel due to accumulation of plaque and bacteria on the surface of the teeth. When bacteria accumulates on the teeth and is not properly removed by brushing or flossing, it forms a substance called plaque. Plaque forms a film over the teeth, and eventually has the potential to harden into a substance known as tartar.

When plaque and tartar are allowed to sit on the teeth, the rampant growth and promotion of bacteria allows for the breakdown and decay of the tooth structure. When left untreated, the decay in the tooth will continue to grow until the patient begins to experience pain and the tooth eventually becomes unsalvageable. When the decay reaches this point, it is not uncommon for the individual to then need more extensive work done than a simple cavity filling. For this reason, it is always best to take care of a cavity as soon as it is diagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for a cavity to exist without causing the individual any pain at all until it has reached a certain point of decay.

What You Can Do To Avoid Cavities

The best way to avoid cavities is to keep in mind that the surface of the teeth must be as free of bacteria or harmful sugars as possible. Brushing thoroughly at least twice a day for two minutes at a minimum is a great start, though it is recommended to brush after every meal, if possible.

Individuals who tend to snack or sip on beverages like coffee, soda, or tea during the day are encouraged to finish their food and drink in one sitting so that they can brush their teeth and keep the surfaces of the teeth clean. This greatly reduces the chance of the food or sugar residue sitting on the teeth and being able to break down the tooth structure. Flossing regularly will also ensure that any food or bacteria between the teeth is successfully removed.

Regularly attending your hygiene appointments to ensure that your teeth are as clean as possible is also an excellent way to steer clear of cavities. Attending the dentist regularly will also help you detect any cavities in time to save the tooth before the decay reaches a certain point. In most cases, it is recommended that you return to the dentist every six months.

With proper home care and regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups, you should be better able to manage your dental health and avoid the development of cavities. Speak to your dentist and dental hygienist to learn what they recommend for you personally in order to maintain your healthiest smile. If you are in Oakton, VA or the surrounding areas of Fairfax or Vienna and looking for more information about cavity prevention or to get scheduled in our Oakton, VA dental office, give us a call at (703) 938-3405.