Tooth decay, the reason why we develop cavities, may be the most widespread chronic disease among adults and children alike, but it’s also among the most preventable diseases in the world. In fact, knowing how cavities form can grant you the power to prevent them, even if you’ve already had one. If a cavity appears, then restorative dentistry can save your smile by eliminating the infection and restoring your tooth’s structural integrity. Before it becomes a factor, however, you can prevent cavity development by addressing the issues that cause them in the first place.
Understanding Your Teeth
The prevalence of cavities isn’t due to any particular difficulty in treating them, but rather to the ease with which they can develop when your hygiene isn’t up to par. Your teeth are surrounded by a highly-resilient substance called tooth enamel—the strongest substance your body produces—which protects them from infectious oral bacteria. Before cavities can develop, bacteria have to get past your tooth enamel to reach the more vulnerable dentin underneath. Once they do, they can quickly infect the tooth, causing a cavity to form and grow.
How to Prevent Cavities
The trick to preventing cavities is to keep them from destroying your enamel. Effective prevention relies on two fronts; managing the amount of bacteria-rich plaque that forms on your teeth, and keeping your tooth enamel strong and healthy enough to repel the bacteria that do accumulate.
- Brush and floss religiously – Most people know that they should brush and floss at least twice every day, but did you know that not doing so can almost guarantee cavities? The daily routine helps you control the amount of bacteria and plaque that gather on your teeth, removing them before they can destroy your tooth enamel and infect one or more teeth.
- Watch what you eat – Food and beverages can be good or bad, as far as your teeth are concerned. Items high in sugar and acid, like soft drinks and candy, feed oral bacteria to produce harmful acids that weaken tooth enamel. However, foods rich in calcium and phosphate, like dairy products and vegetables, keep your teeth and enamel supplied with necessary nutrients.