June 5, 2018
We all know that brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are necessary to prevent tooth decay. However, most Americans still have it, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2011 to 2012, 91 percent of Americans aged 20 to 64 had dental cavities in permanent teeth. That number only goes up to 95 percent for Americans 65 and older.
Today, your dentist in Jacksonville will explain exactly what causes tooth decay, why treatment is necessary, and how you can prevent them in the future.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are caused by specific types of oral bacteria. Every time you consume food or beverages that contain sugar or carbohydrates, this bacteria begins consuming it. Afterward, they release acids which begin attacking the outer layer of your tooth, the enamel. As the enamel erodes, they develop pits that get larger and larger over time.
Acids from bacteria don’t only attack the surface of teeth however. They can also seep through enamel and begin attacking the main body of the tooth, known as the dentin. This combination of eroding enamel and dentin is the beginning of decay development that creates cavities.
Why Cavities Need to Be Treated
If enough decay develops and no changes are made in your oral care, the bacteria will continue to grow and eventually reach the center of your teeth, known as the pulp. While the enamel and dentin are thick and intended to protect the root well, the root itself does not have that same protection. It’s outer layer, the cementum, is much thinner in comparison.
Once acid reaches the cementum, it will begin dissolving rapidly, exposing the most vulnerable parts of your tooth to bacteria. Untreated decay will eventually dissolve the entire structure of the tooth, causing it to fall out.
Luckily, preventing most dental caries is easy when you know the right steps.
How to Practice Proper Prevention
Typically, the early signs of cavities carry no symptoms because the enamel and dentin have no nerves. All the nerves are located in the center of teeth, so the moment you start feeling pain, it’s because decay has reached your inner tooth.
To prevent this, take note of the following tips from your dentist in Jacksonville:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss daily to remove plaque from the sides of teeth and pockets of your gums
- Visit your dentist every six months for examinations and cleanings
- Eat a balanced diet that promotes good oral health
- Consider using a mouth rinse daily to replenish minerals designed to strengthen teeth
- Chew gum after meals to keep the mouth moist and saliva production high
With these steps in mind, you can prevent tooth decay, long-term dental disease, and save money on dental bills for restorative care. To learn more about preventing tooth decay, schedule an appointment with your family dentist in Jacksonville today!
About the Author
Dr. Ryan Johnson earned his DDS degree from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. His preventive treatment help patients of all ages catch early signs of decay and treat them accordingly. To learn more about his practice, contact him through his website.
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