Protecting Your Kids’ Dental Health at Every Age
As a parent, we know your top priority is ensuring your children's health and well-being. While you may already have a good handle on their physical health, it is important...
How do you make sure tooth decay doesn’t impact your life? By learning its secrets. This is surprisingly simple – cavities are more predictable than you might think. While there are always exceptions, for those with certain conditions that may heighten their risk of decay, the majority of the population can prevent decay on their own. We want the best for our patients, and that means providing you with all the tools you need to build stellar oral health. Check out our cavity primer below, and get in touch for answers to any of your dental health questions.
Everything we put into our mouths affects the oral environment. Your mouth is more sensitive than you might think – there’s actually a specific pH level at which it does best. Foods, drinks, and habits like smoking disrupt that and expose teeth to dangerous acids.
Whenever you eat or drink, the food/beverage interacts with oral bacteria. While many nutrients are neutral or even helpful, sugars and starches are bad news. Bacteria consume them, producing acids. These acids are harmful to enamel, and erode the outer tooth surface.
Your teeth aren’t totally alone in the fight against acids – minerals in your saliva push back, helping protect enamel. Fluoride from toothpaste or tap water also joins in the fight, working to repair enamel by providing new minerals to tooth surfaces.
This war rages on throughout each day – and if you eat right and clean your teeth well, you can emerge victorious. But when bacteria gather and feed unchecked, plaque will begin to form on your teeth, making it tougher to combat bad effects. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that clings to your teeth. Because the bacteria have adhered to teeth, when they produce acids, enamel takes a big hit. The first signs of decay will begin to appear:
If these spots continue to develop, they will become cavities. A cavity must be treated by a dentist and cannot be improved on your own.
At this point, you can intervene at home to reverse decay – but you need to be vigilant to notice the signs of a problem. Early cavities won’t hurt, and the only signs are usually visual ones. Your breath may also have worsened due to increased bacteria in the mouth.
If you’re already experiencing plaque buildup, your mouth is beginning to change. Getting rid of that plaque before it hardens into tartar is key – once it has hardened, it can only be removed by a dental professional. Plus, the longer plaque remains in place, the more likely it is to irritate your gums. Inflamed gums can develop into gingivitis, which may progress to gum disease. Periodontal disease destroys gums and bone, and is a serious problem requiring comprehensive treatment. Prevention is vital!
You may have plaque buildup if you’re noticing:
Plaque most commonly builds when patients skip brushing, especially before bed. It’s crucial to remove acids before sleeping for the night. Your mouth is a different environment while you’re asleep, and it’s one in which enamel is more vulnerable.
Follow the decay-reversal tips mentioned above to scrub away plaque and reset your mouth – before decay can take hold.