Most people know that cavities are tooth decay that needs to be fixed by a dentist, but you may not realize that you can interrupt and reverse early tooth decay before cavities form. This will save you potential pain and money. To understand how to prevent cavities from forming, it is important to understand a little bit about your mouth.
Everyone’s mouth is full of a variety of types of bacteria. Some of these bacteria help digest our food, some doesn’t help or hurt us, and some use starch and sugar we eat to produce acids. These acids are what really cause tooth decay. They remove minerals like calcium from the enamel (hard outer surface) of our teeth. Minerals like calcium and phosphate, along with fluoride from toothpaste and other sources, are constantly repairing the enamel after it gets attacked by acid.
Teeth are more susceptible to acid attacks at night because your mouth produces less saliva while you are sleeping. Therefore, it is important to brush and floss your teeth before bed and to not eat after you do this. If you ever notice a new whitish spot on a tooth, it can be an early sign of decay due to mineral loss. At this stage, the decay can still be stopped or reversed. Once cavities have formed, however, the damage is permanent and will require a dentist’s help to repair the damage.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent cavities:
- Brush and floss twice daily
- Have sealants placed in molars (most susceptible)
- Have regular checkups at the dentist