Did you know that over 90% of Americans develop cavities in their adult teeth? For a country that has some of the most beautiful smiles in the world, there’s quite a bit of work to do to keep our oral health up-to-par. In this article, Dr. Angie Nauman of Glisten Dental – your premier dentist in Tulsa, OK – educates you on how cavities develop and gives you some tips on how you can keep your teeth healthy.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Dr. Nauman advises that cavities, or dental caries as they’re known professionally, are most often the result of tooth decay. They progress through the stages below:
- Plaque Formation – When we eat, our foods start to break down in our mouths. The natural bacteria blends with foods to begin digesting them, and forms acids. If not brushed away, this acid and bacteria will eventually form plaque – the icky, sticky film that covers your teeth. Plaque formation increases exponentially when people eat sugary foods.
- First Stage– In the first stage, plaque and acids gradually wear away at your tooth enamel. Since your enamel is made of minerals, the acid and plaque strip these away and make tiny holes in the protective covering of your teeth. You may need a filling now, but your tooth might still be strong enough to repair itself with good oral hygiene. Dr. Nauman will be able to tell you for sure.
- Second Stage – In the second stage of cavity development, more of the enamel is affected, and the bacteria and acid start to attack the dentin – the next layer of tooth that’s beneath the outer surface. Cavities can become painful at this point. You’ll definitely need a filling now.
- Third Stage – At this point, the bacteria and plaque continue to compromise the layers of your teeth and eventually the pulp will be affected. The pulp is the soft center part of your tooth’s anatomy and, if this becomes infected, you could face many problems. From sensitivity to a toothache to an abscess to bone loss, you’ll most likely need root canal therapy to address the advanced cavity, decay, and infection.
What Can I Do To Prevent Cavities?
Since cavities are easily preventable with good habits, be sure to take the following action to keep your teeth healthy:
- 2×2 – Brush gently twice a day for two minutes, and floss when you brush. Remember: brushing harder, for a shorter amount of time doesn’t give your teeth the care they need. Use the timer on your phone to keep you on the right track.
- Eat Healthy – Since sugary foods cause the most problems with tooth decay, cut down on sweet treats, including beverages like sodas and fruit juices. Switch to water, veggies, high-protein snacks, and dairy (especially cheese). And, eliminate grazing altogether if you can.
- See Dr. Nauman – Even if you eat right and take great care of your teeth at home, you still need to see your family dentist in Tulsa at least twice a year. With a professional exam and cleaning, our team will be able to prevent future cavities and treat any existing issues you might have.
Now that you’re educated on the common cavity conundrum and you know how to prevent them from striking in your mouth, schedule your appointment with Glisten Dental to keep your smile happy!