How to Prevent and Get Rid of Tooth Decay: 7 Best Practices and Treatments
Tooth decay is one of the most common dental health problems people face. As a disease, it is considered quite sneaky since it usually begins without the patient noticing it.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), tooth decay begins when sticky bacterial plaque found on the teeth transforms sugars in food into acids. This will then break down the hard enamel of the teeth, causing it to weaken.
The more of these acids are produced, the faster the decay. If left unchecked, tooth decay goes through the layers of the teeth – from the enamel down to the pulp. Since dentin — the next layer of the teeth — is much softer than enamel, the decay spreads rapidly through it and often reaches the cementum that covers the roots.
Based on the Academy of General Dentistry’s notes, this is what causes the patient to experience sensitivity to cold, hot, sweet, sour, and sticky foods and discomfort when biting down. And since decay causes cavities, it also causes food to get trapped in the teeth.
This article will teach you how you can prevent dental cavities from forming and what you’ll need to undergo should your teeth decay over time.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay: 3 Best Practices
While it may seem to be an expected part of life, tooth decay should not be a normal occurrence. In fact, with the following three best practices, it is possible to prevent it altogether:
1. Practice proper dental hygiene
Like everything else related to oral health, preventing tooth decay always begins with maintaining proper dental hygiene.
Brush at least twice every day using a toothpaste that contains fluoride, preferably after each meal, and before going to bed. Make sure that you get food debris and particles stuck in between teeth. For a more thorough clean, floss your teeth using dental floss or interdental cleaners.
It also helps to rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing mouthwash every day. Even better, choose a product with antiseptic ingredients that aid in the eradication of plaque-causing bacteria.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
Tooth decay is fueled by carbohydrates found in the food you eat. These sugars and starches found in cereals, milk, bread, cakes, fruits, and candy stay on the teeth. This will then feed the bacteria living in your mouth which, in turn, transforms them into acid.
As mentioned earlier, acids combined with saliva, food debris, and bacteria form plaque that causes tooth decay.
Considering this, dentists recommend that you keep your diet as healthy as it can be. Stick to nutritious foods and eat balanced meals. Limit your snacks – especially treats that contain carbohydrates like candy, chips, and pretzels.
If these cannot be avoided, be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly afterward.
3. Have your teeth professionally cleaned periodically
serves as another crucial part of cavity prevention. Despite this fact, some people still dread cleanings, probably due to misapprehension from the strange noises, prodding, and the occasional jaw discomfort some people experience.
However, these instances are quite rare. In most teeth cleaning sessions, two things can commonly happen, including:
- A physical examination – A dental hygienist performs the majority of teeth cleaning sessions. But before they begin, they usually perform with an inspection of the patient’s mouth.
The physical examination involves the use of a small mirror to check all the sides of the teeth. They also inspect the gums for any signs of gingivitis (gum inflammation) and other potential issues. Should anything arise, they might call the dentist to ensure that it’s safe to proceed with the cleaning.
- Tartar and plaque removal – Once they confirm that nothing is amiss, the dental hygienist will start removing the tartar and plaque that accumulated in the teeth using the same small mirror as a guide, and a scaler. They do this along the gum line and in between the teeth.
You’ll hear some scraping sounds from the process, but this is normal. The more tartar there is in a particular spot, the longer they need to scrape it.
During these dental visits, you can also request for dental sealants, which act as protective coatings for your teeth. These are applied along the chewing surfaces of the molars (back teeth) to prevent tooth decay.
Most Dentist-Recommended Tooth Decay Solutions
When you have tooth decay, you normally won’t feel any symptoms until they have already reached the teeth’s roots. However, you shouldn’t put off treatment just because you don’t feel any pain or discomfort yet.
Remember that tooth decay doesn’t repair itself, which means that procrastination will only make it worse. That said, be sure to seek proper treatments once your dentist notices any sign of decay during your dental checkup.
Here are some solutions your dentist might recommend, depending on the severity of tooth decay:
4. Fluoride Treatment
If your dentist notices cavities starting to form due to tooth decay, he might recommend a fluoride treatment to restore the tooth enamel. When performed early on, this may even reverse the cavity.
These treatments offered by professionals contain more fluoride than those found in toothpaste, tap water, and mouth rinses. They also come in gel, liquid, or varnish form, which are usually applied to the teeth using a brush or placed on a small dental tray fitted over the teeth.
Also known as “restorations,” dental fillings are dubbed as the main treatment option that has passed the early stages. They literally “fill” the cavities caused by tooth decay with tooth-colored materials like porcelain, composite resin, and dental amalgam to prevent further spread of the disease.
6. Dental Crown
When the decay in your teeth has progressed further and weakened the teeth, it may be high time to get yourself a dental crown. These custom-fitted shells made of gold, resin, porcelain, and other materials cover the tooth’s natural crown and are placed after the dentist has drilled away all decayed parts. Some healthy parts of the natural teeth may also be removed to ensure the proper fit of the crown.
7. Root Canal
In case the tooth decay has already reached the innermost layer of the tooth called the “pulp,” your dentist might recommend a root canal in Fort Lauderdale. This treatment entails repairing badly damaged teeth by removing the diseased pulp and replacing it with a filling.
Get Rid of Decay Early on to Save Your Teeth
When a tooth is severely decayed to the point that it cannot be restored, the only option is to remove it. Extracting teeth prevents further spread of the decay, but it leaves a gap between the teeth. While this can be remedied with a dental bridge, implant, or dentures, nothing beats getting rid of decay early to save your teeth.