One of the most common dental diseases people have is tooth decay. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics from 2011 to 2012, approximately 91 percent of adults aged 20 to 64 had dental caries at some point. That number inched up to 96 percent once adults hit 65 years of age.
If your dentist in Richardson is telling you that you’re at risk of cavities or that he’s found a cavity since your last visit, you’ll want to read this post on where they come from and how to prevent them in the future!
What are Cavities?
Also known as dental caries, cavities and tooth decay are both dental diseases caused by specific oral bacteria. While there are many types of bacteria present in the mouth, only certain bacteria produces acids which destroy tooth enamel and dentin.
All teeth are vulnerable to cavities, however some are more vulnerable than others. There are also specific areas of teeth that are more prone to decay, so let’s distinguish those first.
Tooth decay typically develops in the pits and grooves of teeth, especially the molars and premolars located in the back of the mouth. This is because the cracks and grooves make it very easy for bacteria to settle and develop. Decay also easily forms:
- Between teeth
- Near the gum line
- Around dental fillings, bridgework, and other dental restorations
How Do People Get Cavities?
As mentioned earlier, bacteria releases acids that attack tooth enamel, but how does bacteria release this acid in the first place? The cause is directly linked to the foods you eat on a daily basis, as well as the amount of time you spend brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist.
Every time you consume sugar or starches, bacteria consumes them and releases acid as a byproduct. This acid sticks to the teeth and gums in the form of plaque and can easily seep down inside teeth, eventually reaching the vulnerable inner layer, known as pulp.
Without a strict oral care routine and balanced diet, decay will eventually break down enough enamel and dentin to create a cavity. This allows more bacteria to reach the inner tooth and eventually cause an infection.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
The best way to reduce plaque and oral bacteria is by keeping a dedicated oral care routine. This should consist of brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months for cleanings and exams. You may also want to consider adding a fluoridated mouth rinse to remineralize enamel and keep it strong. This will make it much more difficult for bacteria to survive in the mouth and cause cavities.
You’ll also want to keep a balanced diet and avoid snacking throughout the day, especially on sugary or starchy foods. This will make your mouth less acidic and reduce the chances of developing caries.
Looking for additional treatments to keep your mouth in good condition? Schedule an appointment with your dentist today!
About the Author
After graduating top of his undergraduate class, Dr. Nathan Coughlin earned his dental degree and orthodontic certificate from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. To learn more about his preventive treatments for cavities, contact him through his website.