Cavities are a common and painful dental problem. According to the CDC, over 50% of adolescents between 12 and 19 have had at least one cavity in a permanent tooth, so regular visits with a kid's dentist are essential. Without treatment, cavities can cause serious issues, including tooth loss, but thankfully, many cavities are entirely preventable.
What Causes Cavities?
Also known as tooth decay, cavities occur when a tooth's hard surface sustains permanent damage, leaving behind small holes or openings that can spread with time. Many factors can contribute to cavities, including bacteria in the mouth, sugary foods, and issues with oral hygiene. Bacteria, food particles, and saliva can mix, coating your teeth with plaque.
Without regular brushing and flossing, the acids in plaque can eventually dissolve the enamel protecting teeth. When enamel is damaged, cavities can form in teeth. Common signs of cavities include dental pain, bleeding gums, and increased tooth sensitivity.
How to Prevent Cavities
Regular brushing and flossing is the most effective way to prevent cavities. It's also a good idea to schedule professional cleanings with a dentist once a year. Since cavities are common in children, scheduling regular checkups with a kid's dentist is especially important.
Flouride, a natural mineral found in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwashes, can strengthen your teeth, reducing the risk of cavities. It's also a good idea to limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks. When the bacteria in your mouth break down these foods, it leaves acid behind, damaging your teeth.
The saliva in your mouth can help remove plaque, but if your mouth is dry, it won't be capable of doing its job. Ensure you drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist throughout the day. As a bonus, drinking water can help rinse food particles left behind after eating.
The Importance of Dental Care
You're less likely to develop cavities when you care for your teeth at home, but regular dental checkups are essential. A dentist can look for signs of tooth decay and apply sealants to teeth that offer extra protection against cavities. If you develop a cavity, your dentist can treat it early, helping prevent tooth loss.
From visits with a kids dentist to adult dental checkups, maintaining good oral health is the best way to avoid cavities. If you can prevent plaque from building up in your mouth, you can keep cavities from developing in the first place. Contact us if you're due for a dental checkup.