Whether as a reason behind a toothache or as a warning not to overindulge in sweets, sugary foods, and beverages, cavities are a familiar issue to most people. In fact, tooth decay, the dental infection that causes the small holes to form in your teeth, affects at least one permanent tooth in over 90% of US adults. What you might not know, however, is that cavities are highly preventable, and even if you’ve had one before, you can preserve your healthy teeth from further infection with the right care and maintenance.
To the untrained eye, dental plaque is nothing more than an annoying film that somehow continues to come back, no matter how many times you brush and floss. To your teeth, however, dental plaque is a clear and present danger, housing over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria. When some of these microbes consume the sugar and starches in your food and drinks, they convert them into acids that weaken your teeth’s enamel. In time, acid can erode your tooth enamel until it develops holes large enough for bacteria to slip past it, infect your tooth, and lead to the development of cavities.
When bacterial acid attacks your tooth enamel, it also saps your teeth with the minerals they need to keep enamel strong. The acid can remain for up to 20-30 minutes, and after it dissipates, your teeth can regain their minerals and refortify their enamel (remineralization). Brushing and flossing your teeth helps remove bacterial plaque to limit the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to when you eat and drink, but if the rate of acid erosion outpaces remineralization, it can permanently damage your enamel and almost inevitably lead to cavities (if not treated in time).
Tooth decay is a progressive issue; the more it progresses, the larger the cavity grows, and eventually, your tooth can be consumed by the infection. The most effective method of preventing cavities is to control plaque growth through daily brushing and flossing, as well as routine checkups and cleanings as often as Dr. Miller recommends. If enamel erosion is detected before the enamel is irreversibly damaged, then you may still prevent a cavity from forming with improved hygiene and preventive dental measures. Once tooth decay develops, Dr. Miller will have to restore the tooth with a dental filling or root canal therapy, depending on the cavity’s severity.
Snow Park Dental proudly serves patients and their families from Rio Rancho, Corrales, Edgewood, Tijeras, Los Lunas, and surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Miller, contact us today at (505) 596-4479.
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