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Richard L. Rausch, DDS
1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2201, New York, NY 10020

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Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone

Resisting temptation is always difficult, especially when it involves skipping a boring, mundane task like brushing and flossing twice each day. However, resisting is essential for good oral health and most people don’t realize the importance of oral health to their overall physical health. However, poor oral health has been linked to serious diseases such as dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, premature death, and hypertension. Knowing the best way to prevent cavities is the first step in maintaining good oral health, so the following information may help you.

You have both beneficial and harmful bacteria in your mouth. When you eat or drink, the beneficial bacteria combine with your food to break it down for digestion. Acids are also part of this process. When the bacteria and acids aren’t removed through brushing and flossing, they begin to attack your tooth enamel, and cavities are the result. Although you won’t lose your teeth immediately, the decay process will cause your oral health to deteriorate, and you may need a filling, crown, or root canal.

If you have a small hole in your tooth, then you have a cavity. If treated promptly, then a dentist should be able to remove the decayed part and place a filling in one office visit. However, if you delay seeking treatment, then you may need a dental crown. After that, you’ll need a root canal and a dental cap, which is a painful and invasive treatment.

What’s the Best Way to Prevent Cavities?

Avoidance of cavities is the best treatment for cavities. Dedication to your daily oral hygiene routine can keep cavities and decay from starting, and it will also help you maintain good physical health.

The American Dental Association has published guidelines for good oral health practices, and they’re very similar to the following:

  1. Regular brushing: Brush and floss at least twice daily. You should brush in the morning before eating or drinking anything, and brush and floss at night before you retire. Don’t eat or drink anything except plain water after you’ve brushed your teeth at night. The ADA also recommends that you brush and floss after each meal or snack. Be sure to use an ADA-approved toothpaste that contains fluoride for best results.
  2. Use mouthwash daily: Use an antibacterial mouthwash each day. The ADA recommends that you use mouthwash twice each day at a minimum. Mouthwash can remove residual bacteria that your toothbrush missed, so it’s especially important to use it before bedtime.
  3. Get regular dental checkups: An essential component of your good oral hygiene should be regular dental checkups. Your dentist may spot minor issues that you hadn’t noticed, especially if you’re prone to dental infections.
  4. Use topical dental treatments: Your dentist can apply a topical protective treatment to the fronts and backs of your teeth that will also prevent food particles from being trapped in crevices. When properly cared for, a topical application can last for a decade, so it’s money well spent.
  5. Eat healthy, tooth-friendly foods: The same foods that are good for your body are also good for your teeth, and they include items such as dairy or cheese that provides calcium for strong teeth. Fresh vegetables and fruits are high in fiber, which helps clean your teeth and supply antioxidants to your entire body. Sugar-free gum and unsweetened coffee and tea provide moisture to your mouth and flush away bacteria.
  6. Drink tap water: Since most people drink bottled water that has been demineralized, many don’t get the level of minerals that their teeth need. Drink some tap water daily to supply the fluoride and other minerals that are essential for strong, healthy teeth.
  7. Get advice from your dentist: Your dentist has spent decades learning about and practicing dentistry, so take advantage of their expertise. Your dentist will be happy to provide tips on improving your oral health.

Despite your best efforts, you may get a cavity. If so, be sure to have it treated promptly so that it doesn’t escalate. Root canals are very serious and can cause severe damage and even death if left untreated.

What Ways Will My Dentist Treat My Cavities?

If you have a cavity, the following are the most common options for treatment:

  • Filling: If you have a small cavity, your dentist can clean the area and then place a filling, usually in one visit. Several filling options are available depending on the location of your tooth, but your dentist will recommend the best option for you.
  • Crown: If your cavity is larger, your dentist may recommend a tooth cap for it because larger fillings have a higher failure rate. If so, the decayed area will be removed, the area will be disinfected, and then a permanent cap will be installed. This may require two office visits because most caps are custom-made to your tooth, so they match in color, shape, and size.
  • Root Canal: If the decay in your tooth has reached the pulp, then you’ll need a root canal. For this procedure, your dentist will remove the decayed portion, including the root, the pulp, and the nerve, and then disinfect the area. The root will be sealed. Then, the canal will be filled with gutta-percha. The last step is to install a dental cap with permanent cement. Your cap will look, feel, and function like your natural teeth, but since it’s custom-made, you’ll need two or three appointments for this procedure.

Advances in the field of dentistry are continually giving us innovative treatments, so discuss them with your dentist to see if any of them will help you. New treatments include using fluorescent light to detect tooth decay and sealant to prevent tooth decay from spreading to adjacent teeth.

Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist how you can improve your oral hygiene routine. The best cavity prevention program, however, is good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. In combination with good oral hygiene, a healthy diet can ensure that your teeth last throughout your lifetime without the need for artificial teeth and cumbersome dental appliances.

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Richard L. Rausch, DDS

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(646) 863-8184

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