Good oral hygiene is the best defense against tooth decay. However, there are instances when cavities start to form and you have no other option but to halt and hopefully reverse the process. The question is: how exactly do you do this?
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is essentially the process wherein the outer surface of the tooth is slowly destroyed, mainly due to bacterial infection. When left overtime, the decay results to cavities that needs to be addressed immediately to prevent further problems.
How Does It Happen?
The mouth is full of bacteria, usually stemming from the food we eat on a daily basis. More specifically, the bacterial mostly comes from sugary food items – consistently and repeatedly attacking the enamel until tooth decay becomes a problem. Note that tooth decay doesn’t automatically mean cavities. Typically, tooth decay starts with a whitened spot along the teeth – this is a sign that the minerals are already gone and the destruction process is starting. Once the black portion or cavity forms, the damage becomes permanent.
Can It Be Fixed and How?
As previously mentioned, damage becomes permanent when the cavity forms. Does that mean that you can reverse the problem when the white spots start to appear? Absolutely! The teeth is more than capable of restoring minerals into damaged areas so with proper treatment, you can actually prevent and REVERSE tooth decay in its early stages.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Focus on good oral hygiene. At this point, you’ll have to make sure that you’re brushing your teeth after every meal. Don’t forget to floss as well, preferably before brushing. A good rinse with mouthwash will also help in fighting any bacteria you may have missed.
- Learn to brush your teeth the right way. This is the most common problem experienced by most individuals. Proper brushing should be done in an up and down motion rather than a side-to-side movement. Ideally, you should be brushing in little circles to have a better chance of attacking bacteria and protecting your teeth.
- Be careful with your toothpaste choices. The best and most effective ingredient in toothpaste against tooth decay is fluoride. Fortunately, this ingredient is quite common in most products but not all. If possible, opt for the toothpaste recommended by your dentist, especially if you happen to have any prior tooth issues.
- Steer clear of sugary food items. For most, this is where the problem stems from. If you’re going to eat anything sweet, make sure you brush your teeth immediately afterwards. Check out food labels as well. Anything that contains high amounts of fructose and glucose are best avoided.
- Schedule routine visits with your dentist. Of course, don’t forget to visit your dentist often; making sure that your teeth is routinely cleaned for thorough tooth decay prevention. Brushing is excellent for daily use but there’s nothing like the help of a dentist to make sure every single crevice is properly cleaned.
- Request a filling from your dentist. This is when the cavity is removed and an artificial filling is put in its place to seal the hole. For the most part, this is an excellent solution to the problem and with proper oral hygiene, no further fillings will be necessary.
- Seek a root canal for a painful tooth. This is when the decayed tooth is removed up to a point and a cap put on its place to seal the gap. Despite the thought that root canals are extremely scary and painful, they are fairly routine and may not be as bad as you think.
If the tooth decay is extensive, dentists might have no other option but to extract the tooth and put in a permanent one to replace the gap.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay From Now On?
Once you’ve managed to restore your teeth to their full health, it’s time to make sure that tooth decay doesn’t happen again. To do this, we recommend you continue with the basic oral care mentioned above, plus frequent visits to the dentist for a thorough clean and prevention. Once the initial tooth decay is handled, everything else should come easily. Remember: a beautiful smile will take you far so make sure you take care of it.