The health of your mouth is important to your general well-being, which is why you take the time to brush and floss each day while also visiting your dentist regularly. Among the greatest threat to impact your oral health is tooth decay. In fact, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that it is the most prevalent chronic disease affecting children and adults. Although it is common, it is easily preventable if you understand what causes it and take a proactive approach to protect your smile from damage.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
The hard-outer layer of your tooth is known as the enamel. It acts as a protective barrier for the inner layers. Throughout the day, it is exposed to bacteria, which is caused by sugars and starches in the foods and drinks that you consume. When the bacteria combine with your saliva, it turns the sugars into acid. It then begins to slowly eat away at your enamel, causing small holes to develop.
This is a slow process that will not occur overnight. There are various stages to the development of cavities. As a result, it may not always be apparent when one is developing, allowing it to go undiagnosed and untreated until it has progressed in severity.
Do I Have a Cavity?
Often, in the early stages of development, you will not experience any symptoms; however, you may see white spots on your teeth. As the holes in the enamel continue to extend toward the inner layers of the tooth, you may develop tooth sensitivity. Over time, the tooth can become quite painful while you can visibly see a hole or a dark spot on the tooth.
Can I Prevent Cavities?
With it often hard to detect the early stages of tooth decay, it is important to maintain your semi-annual appointments with your dentist. With early detection and treatment, you can help to protect your teeth from irreversible damage. Your dentist can also provide certain treatments to combat the development of cavities, like dental sealants and fluoride treatments.
In addition to care from your dentist, there are several things that you can do at home to protect your smile. It is best to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session using a fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to floss each night before going to bed to clean areas that your toothbrush cannot reach.
To reduce your risk for cavities, it is best to limit your consumption of sugars and starches. However, if you cannot ignore your sweet tooth, be sure to brush your teeth immediately afterward or rinse your mouth with water.
About Arrowhead Foothills Dentistry
Arrowhead Foothills Dentistry uses state-of-the-art technology to help you achieve and maintain a healthy smile. We offer the preventive services that you need to prevent tooth decay while providing the care you need to restore your dental health if one develops. If you suspect that you have a cavity, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.