Can You Fix Tooth Decay?
You already know that a dentist can repair the damage of a cavity with a filling, but did you know that you can stop and even reverse the tooth decay before it becomes a cavity? You are not doomed to a mouth full of fillings as you get older!
What's inside our mouths?
Your mouth is home to bacteria and these bacteria lives off the sugars and starches from the foods and drinks in your diet. As a result, the bacteria produce an acid which erodes your teeth layer by layer.
What goes on inside our mouths all day?
There is a constant back and forth in your mouth all day between your saliva with minerals and damaging bacteria. Team saliva has tools like calcium, phosphate and fluoride to repair any damage to tooth enamel. Additionally, saliva itself helps prevent bacteria from settling into place to start creating damage. Team bacteria starts as a sticky white film called plaque. The bacteria produces acid after using sugars and starches from your meals and snacks throughout the day. At any one point, your teeth can be losing and replacing minerals in the enamel.
How does a cavity develop?
If the acid from the bacteria has a chance to settle in one place on the tooth or your teeth are regularly exposed to acid, then your teeth will not be able to replace the minerals as they are lost. As decay starts to form, you may notice a white spot on your tooth from a depletion of minerals in that spot.
At this point in tooth decay, you can stop and even reverse any damage. The enamel will need the opportunity to replace the lost minerals from saliva and from fluoride found in your water, toothpaste, mouth rinses, and even salt. If the enamel continues to lose more minerals, it will be destroyed. This spot where the weakened enamel has been decimated is a cavity.
How can we help teeth win the tug of war and avoid a cavity?
Dentists recommend using a small amount of fluoride. It is an important mineral that can stop and reverse tooth decay before it becomes a cavity. Fluoride can strengthen the enamel and can cause the acid producing bacteria to reproduce at a slower rate.
You can get fluoride by:
- Most community public water is fluorinated
- Most toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluoride
- A special treatment at the dentist’s office
- Additional recommendations from the dentist, if the dentist is concerned about your need for fluoride
- After you brush your teeth before bed, do not eat or drink anything
- Limit soda and fruit juice. Those are great special occasion treats!
- Minimize candy, cookies, cakes, and other sugary snacks
- Monitor the amount of carbohydrates you eat throughout the day
- Try to reduce the number of times you eat or snack throughout the day. The more you eat, the more opportunities the bacteria has to attack your teeth.
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