Keeping Decay at Bay
- Posted on: Apr 15 2019
Sometimes we can all get too fixated on dealing with decay after it has already started beating up on the enamel of a tooth. Fillings, root canals, inlays/onlays, and other problems are usually the result of decay that was allowed to have its way on a tooth for too long.
Of course, the best treatment for decay is to not let it gain a foothold in your mouth. And while Dr. Walk, Dr. Bamel, and Dr. Kim are all expert in dealing with decay, the best offense is a good defense. With that in mind, here are some ways to prevent decay from ever getting overly comfortable in your mouth.
Preventing tooth decay
Almost all food has sugar of some sort, whether it tastes sweet or not. Plus, every mouth is teeming with bacteria. Together, they can spell decay, that five-letter swear word that the entire team at Cosmetic Dentistry Center doesn’t want to hear. Acids are produced when bacteria eat sugar. Those acids are the culprits that break down the mineral content in the enamel of our teeth, allowing bacteria into the tooth. Once bacteria gains a foothold in a tooth, this starts the process of decay that results in a cavity, and if not treated, far more heinous dental issues. If left untreated, tooth loss, gum disease… it’s not pretty.
That’s why we want to see you twice each year for professional cleanings and exams. This isn’t an arbitrary number: six months is about the time it takes for decay to take hold, if accompanied by sloppy hygiene. Minimal decay is removed and the affected area, the cavity, is filled. That makes the tooth healthy and decay free again. If not treated, the decay can progress, ending in gum and nerve damage. Even more severe decay will result in extraction of the tooth. But tooth decay is easily preventable with brushing, flossing, use of fluoride toothpaste, and regular checkups with us.
Our molars, the heavy lifters of chewing, have depressions and grooves in them where food and bacteria can hide out. If you’re into Mt. Washington in the winter, these creases in your teeth are like crevasses that develop up high in the ice and snow. Whether your teeth have deep crevices or not is usually determined by genetics. Regardless of their cause, it can be virtually impossible to get all the food particles out of teeth like that. Because you can’t get everything out, decay forms. A recent study found that 88 percent of cavities suffered by U.S. children formed in this fashion. Sealants can give you a way to fight back. Sealants are made of resin and are used to fill the fissures and pits in your molars, keeping out bacteria and food particles. After curing, sealants are almost as hard as your teeth, so chewing is unaffected. And they can last for decades.
Although some Internet nut jobs have websites about the dangers of fluoride in the water supply and in toothpastes as such, most sane people understand the power of fluoride. Fluoride has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce tooth decay. In fact, communities with fluoride added to the water supply have a 50% decrease in tooth decay in children. In addition to fluoridated water and toothpaste, there are also fluoride supplements and fluoride gels or varnishes that we apply to the teeth of our younger patients (although we can also apply it to adult teeth, if you request it).
Is it time for us to see you at Cosmetic Dentistry Center? Call us at (617) 965-7673 to make an appointment.