The importance of our teeth cannot be overestimated. They help us chew the food that we need to sustain our bodies to stay healthy and strong. Our teeth also help us make a good first impression when we meet new people. We really ought to appreciate them more.
Humans have two sets of teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Once you have your adult teeth, usually by age twelve or thirteen, it’s vital to properly care for them as you won’t be growing anymore naturally. The most common threat to a long and healthy life for your teeth are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Cavities are what it’s called when tooth decay has weakened your tooth enamel, causing holes in it — hence the name cavity– and exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. You may experience sensitivity and discomfort in the affected tooth when you have a cavity as well as exposing the inside of your tooth to bacteria which can cause infections. If left untreated, cavities can eventually make properly chewing painful and making it difficult to get proper nutrition.
Aside from the common cold, cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment in human beings. But what causes this threat to the health of our smiles? What can we do to fix them? And what can we do to prevent cavities so we don’t have to fix them? Dr. James P. Furgurson of Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Millions of living bacteria make their homes in our mouths. Most of them are relatively harmless on their own. However, these bacteria gather and form plaque in places that are challenging for us to clean such as in between our teeth and right at the gum line. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates like sugars (as we find in cookies and candy) or starches (as we find in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths feast on these carbs. This creates digestive acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually treated by your dentist with fillings — named such because in this treatment your dentist fills in and reinforces weakened areas of the tooth enamel with various hard substances. Fillings stop the process of decay by reinforcing the compromised part of the tooth, preventing bacteria and acids from eating away any further. Fillings can be created using composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Furgurson normally does composite fillings but, if the tooth decay is more extensive, he may use an indirect restoration such as a composite or ceramic filling to protect the tooth. When the decay is bad enough, a root canal and crown may be necessary to restore the tooth.
It is much easier to prevent a problem than it is to fix it. Cavities are much the same. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended by dentists to remove the plaque that may have begun to form.
Dentists also suggest reducing your carb intake and drinking plenty of water to remain hydrated. A dry mouth can speed up the acidic breakdown of your teeth. Daily flossing helps clear away the plaque and bacteria in those hard to reach spaces between your teeth to reduce your risk of cavities.
Most important part of prevention is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Chapel Hill, NC area, call 919.205.9308 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Furgurson at Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry. If you think you may be suffering from cavities or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us today!