Our teeth nourish our bodies by chewing our food, structure our face so we can speak, and make up our smile so we can make a good first impression. Once you have your adult teeth, in place by 12 or 13 years of age, it’s important to take care of them as they’re the only teeth you’ll have for the rest of your life. The most common threat to the longevity of your teeth are cavities. Learn more about preventing cavities and the treatments to fix them with Ridgetop Dental, your family dentist in Sterling, VA.
What Is A Cavity?
A cavity is a small opening on the tooth where the enamel has weakened and exposed the sensitive soft tissues and nerves inside. Cavities expose the teeth to infection-causing bacteria, which can result in sensitivity to temperature, pressure, or an abscess beneath the gum line. Cavities are the second most frequently diagnosed problem in adults, second only to the common cold.
How Do Cavities Form?
Our mouths contain live bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless on its own. These bacteria tend to concentrate and form plaque in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths break these components down. This creates acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually treated with fillings, which fill in the holes to seal the tooth. This stops any further bacteria and acids from getting to the weak part of the tooth. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Your Ridgetop Dental dentist will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
As with many things, it’s easier to take care of something than to fix it once it breaks. It’s the same with your cavities. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended to remove the plaque that may have formed. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and keeping yourself properly hydrated. A dry mouth can accelerate the acidic breakdown of your teeth. Daily flossing helps clear away the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those hard to reach spaces between your teeth.
The most important part of prevention is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Sterling, VA area, call (703) 520-7410 or schedule an appointment online to consult with one of our experienced dentists.