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How to Defend Against Cavities

If you believe it’s fine to skip brushing or flossing as an adult, you may find your dentist is telling you that you have a cavity on your next visit. We often associate cavities with children, but adults are not immune. Even if you’re tired or very busy, you can take three minutes to brush and floss.

Cavities occur when sugars you consume meet the plaque in your mouth. The bacteria in plaque converts the sugar into an acid that can erode tooth enamel. If you don’t remove the plaque on a regular basis, the acid has more time to erode the enamel. Cavities start out small in the tooth enamel. Without treatment, they can progress to the next two layers of the tooth and become painful.

Easy Ways to Prevent Cavities

Preventing cavities as an adult isn’t time consuming, expensive, or difficult. All you have to do is:

1. Brush Regularly

Brush at least two times a day for two minutes at a time with a fluoride toothpaste. Use a clean, soft brush that you replace every three to four months. Ideally, you should brush after a meal or snack, but not immediately after having something acidic, like soda. If you can’t brush, try rinsing your mouth out with water or have a piece of sugarless gum.

2. Floss Daily

Flossing helps you clean the plaque from between your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Only about 30 percent of American adults floss every day, so it’s no surprise that cavities adults get are usually between the teeth. Sometimes people don’t floss because it’s time consuming or difficult. Nevertheless, there are many options, like pre-threaded or water flossers, that can make the job easier and faster.

3. Find an Affordable Dentist in Yonkers for Twice Yearly Routine Exams

Getting a dental exam every six months can help prevent cavities. You can get a professional teeth cleaning and learn if your oral hygiene routine is up to snuff. If you’re missing an area of your mouth, you want to know before you start developing cavities.

4. Ask About Dental Sealants

Sealants are simply barriers against plaque. While they are very popular with kids, they work just as well for adults. Sealants go on the clean, dry chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. The surfaces of these teeth are rough and hard to clean. Sealants make them smooth and easy to clean. Dental sealants are a good value since they can last for up to a decade.

5. Avoid Foods and Drinks that Can Damage Tooth Enamel

Sugars can damage tooth enamel. Fortunately, there are delicious foods that can help prevent cavities which have the added benefit of being good for you too.

Foods with sugar and starch can cause cavities. Limiting your consumption of candy, drinks with sugar and carbohydrates will go a long way toward preventing cavities. It’s hard to cut out these foods entirely, but when you eat and drink them is important. Avoid eating hard candy all day long or sipping soda pop all day long. If you want a treat, eat it with a healthy meal so your saliva production will help wash the sugars off your teeth.

If you can’t brush afterward, drink plenty of water to clean your teeth. Tap water, if it is fluoridated, is best. You can also chew sugarless gum too, but brushing is best.

Treatments for Tooth Decay

Always see your dentist before your scheduled exam if you feel you have a cavity. This allows your dentist to choose the most minimally invasive treatment option.

Tooth Fillings

Fillings are the most common method for treating tooth decay. They prevent the decay from causing additional damage since dentists remove all traces of the decay before filling the tooth. When your dentist adds a filling material to the hole, it seals the tooth and restores it. You and your dentist will choose a filling material together based on the size of the cavity, where it’s located and your personal preferences.

Caps

Caps are another name for dental crowns. If you have a large filling, your dentist will suggest a crown so the tooth is as strong as a natural tooth. Crowns cover the tooth completely and, unless you choose a gold crown, they very closely resemble your other teeth. There are several crown materials to choose from; your dental practitioner can help you select the one that is right for you.

Root Canal Procedures

If decay has gone deep into your tooth, you may need a root canal procedure. Your dentist will remove the pulp from inside your tooth, relieving you of the intense pain you are experiencing. He or she will then fill the tooth and cover it with a crown. While some people dread hearing they need a root canal, the procedure isn’t painful. It’s better than having the tooth extracted and replaced, which can be significantly more expensive.

Upcoming Technologies and Cavity Treatments

Dental fillings may become a thing of the past soon. Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Nottingham in England have developed a filling that can stimulate stem cells. There’s no drilling and the filling can regrow the tooth. Until this and other promising treatments become available, we will have to rely on the old-fashioned, but highly effective cavity prevention and treatment methods described above.

It’s not rocket science to prevent cavities, but still, far too many Americans are experiencing cavities at high rates. By practicing good dental hygiene and visiting a dentist regularly, you can prevent cavities from occurring, saving you time, money and pain. Children should also be introduced to a process of good dental practices that includes regular brushing and flossing. There is plenty of time in the day to make sure your teeth stay healthy and fresh, so don’t neglect them and risk painful cavities.

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