Cavities occur when germs on the teeth change sugar into acid. This acid dissolves the tooth surface and creates a cavity.
ACID + TOOTH = CAVITY
- Clean germs from the teeth by improving oral hygiene
- Eat fewer sweet things by changing snack habits
- Strengthen the teeth against acid by using fluorides
Brushing is a skill which must be taught and practiced in order to be done well. Children must be encouraged and assisted by an adult to carry out this daily routine. The most important time to brush is before bed, as the acids produced at night will sit on the teeth and not be washed off by saliva while asleep. Making sure that children brush after meals and before bed will help promote this healthy lifetime habit. Flossing of teeth may begin as early as three years of age, as soon as the primary molars are touching snugly, but is not encouraged until the permanent teeth have all erupted, around age twelve. This procedure removes plaque from between the teeth, a common place for decay and gingivitis to begin.
Eating fewer sweet snacks helps to prevent cavities. Tooth damaging acid is produced for about 30 minutes after every sugary snack. More frequent sweet snacks leads to more acid attack and thus more damage to teeth. In fact, a chocolate bar eaten all at once will cause less tooth damage than snacking on little pieces of it throughout the day. If sweets are only eaten with meals, such as dessert, the plentiful saliva in the mouth at this time will be able to protect the teeth from tooth damaging acid. One must learn to replace sugary snacks with those healthy for teeth.
Strengthening the Teeth
Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is easily weakened by cavity forming acids. Scientists have discovered that fluoride has the ability to strengthen tooth enamel against acid attack. There are many forms of fluoride, and they can work together to build up tooth resistance against attack.
If you choose to follow the suggestions outlined in this blog, you can really reduce or even eliminate tooth decay. This office is committed to preventing dental disease and with your help, it can be done. If you have any questions related to the information presented here or to any other aspect of dental treatment, please ask us!
Dr.Lawrence Yanover, DDS