Can You Fix Tooth Decay?
Cavities are holes in a tooth that develop as a result of decay that happens over a period of time. Our mouths are full of different types of bacteria that live on our tongue, gums, and teeth. Some of this bacterium is good, while other bacteria can do harm and cause issues like tooth decay to occur.
Certain types of bacteria will use sugars found in foods to make acids that eat away at the enamel of our teeth. Fortunately, this damage can be counterbalanced with minerals like phosphate and calcium, which are found in our saliva. The fluoride found in your toothpaste or fluoridated water also protects the teeth by inhibiting the ability of bacteria to make acid and replaces minerals that have been lost. Children who are at an increased risk of developing cavities may benefit from using a fluoride mouth rinse, fluoride tables, or a fluoride gel.
One of the most effective ways to avoid tooth decay is to limit drinking too many sugary beverages and foods that are high in starch or sugar, such as candy and bread. This is also why you should always brush and floss your teeth twice daily and drink plenty of water. In addition to what you eat, it is also important to be mindful of how often you eat. It is best to avoid between-meal snacks and never drink or eat anything with sugar after bedtime brushing. While you are asleep, your flow of saliva naturally decreases, which means your teeth are more vulnerable to acid attack.
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In the early stage of a tooth decay, a visible white spot may appear, which is due to mineral loss. If decay is addressed at this stage, it may still be possible to repair the enamel with fluoride from toothpaste, minerals from saliva, or other sources. If decay is not addressed and more minerals are lost, the enamel will continue to weaken, and a cavity will develop. Once a cavity has developed, it will be necessary to have a filling placed. If the tooth decay advances and spreads to the pulp of your tooth, a root canal may be necessary. For extremely damaged teeth, the best treatment option may be a tooth extraction. While this will be avoided if at all possible, there are times when the decay is so severe that removing the tooth is the best option to eliminate pain.
To avoid having to have a tooth extracted, schedule regular cleanings and exams at least every six months. These appointments allow your dentist to perform a professional cleaning and they are an opportunity to evaluate and monitor your oral health. Tooth decay is much easier and far less costly to treat if it is caught in its early stages. If tooth decay is identified at this checkup, treatment options will be discussed, which may be as simple as modifying your oral hygiene routine and/or change your dietary and lifestyle habits, or if a procedure like a filling, crown or root canal is necessary, it is better to have these procedures performed as soon as possible to halt the progression of decay.