Did you know there are literally hundreds of different types of bacteria living inside our mouths?
While some of these bacteria are harmless, some of them also play a significant role in the development of cavities, also known as tooth decay. If we consume a great deal of sweets and starches, the bacteria in our mouths use these sugars to create acids on the teeth that attack the enamel. When left untreated, these acids continue to destroy the tooth enamel and eventually form a cavity in the tooth.
There are a number of ways dentists can help prevent tooth decay before it happens. Of course, it's our responsibility to practice good dental hygiene habits at home, which includes brushing at least twice a day and flossing, but preventative dentistry is also an important piece of the cavity-prevention puzzle. A visit to the dentist office for a check-up every six months can reveal potential problems before they become irreversible.
Preventative dentistry measures used by dentists to treat and prevent tooth decay include:
Fluoride Treatments: Fluoride is an antimicrobial, naturally occurring substance that helps prevent tooth and root decay.
Sealants: To prevent plaque bacteria from invading the natural pits and grooves of your teeth and causing decay, dentists can apply clear sealants, or preventative resin restorations, to the surfaces of your teeth. Sealants are made of a plastic material that acts as a barrier against cavities.
Air Abrasion: This method of removing mild tooth decay involves blowing particles of aluminum oxide onto the affected tooth. This painless treatment can replace the need for a dental drill in many cases.
If caught early enough, it is possible to stop or reverse mild cases of tooth decay. However, if the decay process isn't halted, the tooth enamel will continue to weaken and a permanent cavity will form. Good dental habits at home combined with a healthy diet and regular dental checkups are the most effective ways to prevent cavities.