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The Way to Cavity-Free Teeth

  According to recent studies, two common ailments have been affecting both children and adults for generations- colds and tooth decay. As much as dental health is concerned, tooth decay is preventable, only if proper teeth and gum care are considered on a daily basis. Bacteria accumulated in the mouth is one of the factors that causes tooth decay. The bacteria changes sugary foods into starch and acid, and when combined with food particles and saliva form a film called plaque. Plaque is commonly found in back molars and the gum lines of the teeth. Areas in the mouth which are not that fully cleaned have thicker plaque and are most prone to decay. If left untreated, patients may start to have dental caries or tartar that could damage the external structure of the teeth. Plaque formation begins in about 20 minutes after eating. This is why brushing one’s teeth after meals is strongly advised especially for those who do not visit their dentists often. Tooth decay isn't as simple as it sounds. The various acidic components of plaque and tartar destroys the enamel, the teeth's natural protection against corrosion. When the teeth structure weakens, bacteria may affect the tooth pulp that contains tiny nerves for blood supply. This usually results in a stinging and sometimes painful sensation. Symptoms and Treatments People may not know that they already have tooth decay since early stages of this dental problem show no symptoms. However, patients should watch out for these red flags:
  • Tooth ache after consumption of sweets, hot and cold foods and drinks
  • Dark areas in the gum line
  • Visible pits in the middle or some part of the teeth
The small pits may not be visible in the early stages of the decay, but a dental x-ray may show the hidden cavities before they even get worse. Using early dental intervention, Patients may be treated with dental fillings, crowns or tooth canals, depending on the condition of their teeth. Dental fillings and other treatments remove the decayed material from the surface of the teeth. Before implementing the procedure, a dental practitioner cleans the teeth and makes sure that no infection will occur after the procedure. Fillings and crowns are made up of non-corrosive materials such as porcelain, alloy, gold or composite resin which are gentle on the gums. For aesthetic purposes, the patient usually prefers porcelain and composite resin to make it look like natural teeth. Root canal treatment is recommended if the condition already affects the pulp, causing the tiny tooth nerves to die. If the bacteria has already affected the pulp, the dentist will have to remove the entire tooth including the root to prevent the infection from spreading Prevention Tooth decay may get worse if left untreated and it can cause a patient a lot of discomfort, but surprisingly, its prevention is really simple. Oral hygiene is the ultimate factor in preventing tooth decay. Since the decay takes time to affect the whole tooth, it is understood that habit can prevent more bacterial accumulation. Brushing one’s teeth at least twice a day, flossing it regularly and visiting a trusted dentist can dramatically decrease anyone’s dental problems. Sticky and chewy foods should also be avoided, as these have high sugar contents that can eventually accumulate a thick film of plaque on teeth. To further prevent future damage, dentists sometimes recommend the use of sealants to prevent plaque build-up especially in molars and hard to reach areas. But above all these, regular dental check-ups are the real game changers. More than having good oral hygiene, consistent visits to the dentist will not only help assess the overall state of one’s teeth and gums, but it will also help in evaluating what kind of oral care is necessary for the patient’s lifestyle. If you are in Raleigh, NC, visit Dr. Valerie Preston at Vpreston Dental.