Most people think cavities are what occur when they eat too many sweets and fail to brush their teeth nightly. This is what most of us were taught as children about the importance of brushing and why we couldn’t just have candy for dinner.
While this explanation about cavities may suffice when explaining tooth decay to children, it actually fails to explain many important aspects of cavities that every adult should know. To help you better protect the health of your teeth and gums, here are five things you may not know about cavities.
Sugar Doesn’t Cause Cavities
Since this flies in the face of everything you probably learned as a child about the cause of tooth decay, it seems like the perfect place to start your cavity reeducation.
Now before you starting calling your parents to ask how they could lie to you as a kid, you should know that while sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, it can make tooth decay worse than if your diet didn’t contain much sugar.
Tooth decay is caused by an accumulation of bacteria that forms into a sticky substance known as plaque that builds up as a yellowish film around the base of your teeth. Whenever you eat foods, especially those high in sugar, plaque begins to produce a substance that erodes away at the enamel on your teeth. If your diet contains a lot of added sugar, such as from candy bars and cans of soda, plaque can cause more damage to your teeth than if you consumed very little processed sugar.
So while sugar doesn’t directly rot away teeth as your parents might have claimed while hoping you’d pick up an apple instead of a Mars Bar the next time you wanted a snack, sugar can help to increase the affect of tooth decay when eaten in high amounts.
Brushing Twice Daily Isn’t the Best Way to Prevent Cavities
While brushing at least twice a day remains a vital part of practicing quality oral hygiene, it actually doesn’t rank as the best way to prevent cavities- flossing does.
To many dentists, flossing actually ranks as more important than brushing when trying to prevent cavities. Flossing helps to remove lingering food particles and plaque from areas of your mouth that a toothbrush can’t reach, such as between your teeth and along the gum line. Since brushing cannot reach these areas, individuals who fail to floss daily allow these harmful substances to buildup between their teeth where they can begin to contribute to tooth decay.
If you don’t think flossing can make that big a difference, consider that the most common places for cavities to develop is in-between your teeth, especially the back molars. You can help to minimize your risk to this kind of tooth decay by flossing at least once a day, ideally just prior to brushing before bedtime.
Children Don’t Get More Cavities Than Adults
While it’s common to think of children as being at a higher risk of cavities, studies have found that fewer children are developing cavities now than anytime in the last 20 years. Thanks in part to advances made in preventative care, and dental sealants, children’s teeth have never been stronger.
The age group that has seen the number of cavities go up is actually seniors, who are experiencing higher rates of decay than ever before. The amount of decay this age groups is experiencing has left 25 percent of seniors over the age of 65 without any remaining permanent teeth, according to the American Dental Association.
While dentists don’t know the direct cause of this trend, many suspect that more seniors have started using medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect. Individuals who suffer from dry mouth have a higher risk of developing cavities due to the important role saliva plays in protecting teeth from decay.
You Won’t Know When You Have a Cavity
Many people assume they will know when a cavity has started to develop when a tooth begins to ache. However when it comes to your oral health, by the time you start to experience discomfort, the problem has already progressed to point that permanent damage has already occurred and the long-term health of the tooth may be in jeopardy.
This ranks as one of the many reasons why you need to schedule regular visits with Dr. McGinty for routine cleanings and checkups. These procedures provide Dr. McGinty with the opportunity to spot the early signs of tooth decay before the problem progresses into a cavity. When caught early, tooth decay can often be treated and reversed.
Once Treated, a Tooth Stops Decaying
For those who feel tempted to resist visiting Littleton Colorado dentist Dr. McGinty until they can no longer stand the pain, keep in mind that the earlier you treat a decaying tooth, the less damage will occur. So instead of delaying treatment and considering the tooth a lost cause, schedule a dental appointment and save yourself a lot of pain in the future.