All About Cavities and How to Prevent Them

Our teeth are important. They help us eat which nourishes our bodies and helps us grow strong and stay healthy. They also make up our smile which is part of the first impression we make when we meet new people. Humans have two sets of the teeth in their lifetime: your baby teeth and your adult teeth. Once you have your adult teeth, usually by the age of twelve to thirteen, it’s very important to take care of them as they need to last the rest of your life. The most common threat to the longevity of your teeth are cavities.

Cavities are another name for spots of tooth decay on our teeth. These spots are where tooth enamel has weakened and broken open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This exposure causes your tooth to be sensitive to temperature or touch and can cause difficulty chewing properly, limiting your dietary options. Cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment with which humans suffer after the common cold.

But what causes this threat to a healthy smile and what can we do to prevent them?

Our mouths contain bacteria. These bacteria tend to concentrate and form plaque in places that are difficult to clean such as in between teeth and below the gum line. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, the bacteria in our mouths break these sugars and starches down, creating acids that bind to the plaque and eat away at the enamel of our teeth.  

Cavities are treated are usually treated by your dentist with fillings. Holes or weakened areas in tooth enamel are reinforced with various substances. Fillings stop the process of decay by denying any further bacteria and acids access to the compromised part of the tooth. Fillings can be comprised of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Your dentist will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.   

As with many conditions, prevention is easier than cure. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and keeping properly hydrated. A dry mouth can accelerate the acidic breakdown of your teeth.  Daily flossing can clear the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those hard-to-reach spaces between teeth.

Most importantly, schedule regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Birmingham area, call 205.235.5043 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Bruce Spink at Spink Dentistry if you think you may be suffering from a cavity, would like to know more about how to prevent them or need a preventative teeth cleaning.