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Cavity Prevention Advice for All Ages

Understanding how to prevent cavities is important. Not only do you want to avoid needing a filling, you want to keep your teeth for as long as possible. Having good dental health is also essential for maintaining your overall health as well.

Cavities are holes in our teeth. The bacteria in plaque causes cavities, although everyone has bacteria in their mouth. When you consume a lot of of sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in plaque turn the sugar into an acid that eats a hole in the tooth enamel. If a person removes plaque regularly with good oral hygiene, it isn’t as much of a problem as for a person who is lax about brushing and flossing.

Cavities start out as small holes in the tooth enamel. There are usually no symptoms at this point. If the cavity isn’t caught during a routine dental exam, it can spread to the middle layer of the tooth, called the dentin. Finally, large cavities can reach the pulp, the innermost layer of the tooth. It this stage, they are more difficult to treat.

Prevent Cavities with These Tips

Genetics can play a role in how often you get a cavity. For example, you may inherit weak tooth enamel from your parents. Nevertheless, dentists have ways to help you compensate, so almost all cavities are preventable. What can you do to avoid cavities?

1. Practice Excellent Dental Hygiene

Most people know they should brush twice a day, but most people don’t brush for a full two minutes at a time. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Make sure the products you buy have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, which shows the products are safe and effective. You also should floss at least once a day.

2. Have a Routine Dental Exam Every Six Months

See a dentist regularly, every six months or more often if you’re prone to getting cavities. He or she can make sure you are taking good care of your teeth at home and make suggestions for products that will help you do a better job if necessary. You can also learn about treatments that will help protect or strengthen your tooth enamel.

3. Ask About Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are thin coatings, usually made from plastic, which dentists paint on the clean chewing surfaces of back teeth. They prevent tooth decay by creating a protective shield over the rough surfaces of the teeth. This prevents plaque from remaining in the grooves and pits after you brush. Sealants can provide years of protection after an application.

4. Consider a Fluoride Treatment

If you are at risk for cavities, your dentist may suggest a fluoride treatment. Fluoride uses calcium and phosphate to strengthen teeth and make them more able to resist decay. Treatments only take a few minutes. Your dentist will apply the fluoride and you’ll wait about 30 minutes for it to absorb into your teeth. After this time, you can eat and drink normally.

5. Eat a Tooth-Friendly Diet

Foods that help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities are usually the ones that are also good for your overall good health. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products and leafy dark greens are high in calcium will help protect tooth enamel.

Drinking fluoridated water from your tap can help wash away food particles in your mouth when you can’t brush. The fluoride will help prevent enamel erosion. Green and black teas (without sugar) also help neutralize bacteria in your mouth before it can convert sugars into acid that will damage your tooth enamel.

Fruits high in vitamin C, like strawberries and apples, can also neutralize cavity causing bacteria. If you choose acidic versions of vitamin C-rich fruits, like tomatoes and oranges, make sure you rinse your mouth afterward or eat them as part of a meal because the acid can erode enamel.

Cavity Treatments

Cavities, especially small ones, are easy to treat. Dentists routinely treat cavities and can do it efficiently and quickly.


When your dentist has to restore a tooth damaged by decay, they have to make sure all the decay is out of the cavity. Once this is done, you still have a hole in your tooth that he or she has to fill. Filling the tooth with a synthetic material like amalgam or composite resin, restores the tooth’s functionality, and keeps plaque and food particles from becoming trapped in the hole.


A crown is a dental cap that completely covers a tooth. Dentists use crowns when they place a large filling in a tooth so the weakened structure can stand up to the normal pressures of biting and chewing without cracking. Custom made crowns look just the like surrounding teeth if they are made with porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal. You can also opt for a gold crown, which is very strong and suitable for molars that are under a lot of pressure.

Root Canals

Don’t ignore any pain or sensitivity to hot or cold in a tooth. If it’s a cavity, you could end up needing a crown or root canal. If decay and bacteria reach the pulp of your tooth, a dentist will have no choice but to remove the pulp. He or she will fill it afterward and place a crown on the tooth to preserve it. Root canals are not painful procedures, but it is always better to avoid them by getting the cavity treated early on. Besides, if the pulp becomes infected, you’ll be in significant pain.

Fillings are the most common treatment for cavities, but maybe not for long. At King’s College London Dental Innovation and Translation Centre, researchers developed a way to repair cavities by with electric currents. The cavity will shrink and close, repairing itself without the need to a filling.

Naturally, dentists would rather see people take care of their teeth and not get cavities in the first place. It’s easy to avoid cavities with good dental hygiene, regular dental exams and cleanings, and eating and drinking foods that don’t contribute to cavities.

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