How to Treat and Prevent Cavities

How to Treat and Prevent Cavities

Cavities are among the world's most common health problems, and unfortunately, they are often left untreated until it is too late. According to the American Dental Association, one in five Americans have untreated cavities in their teeth. Not only do cavities cause discomfort, but in extreme cases, they can lead to tooth loss. At OG Dental Group, we are committed to helping you maintain a strong, beautiful smile. In this article, Denver Highlands dentist, Dr. O'Grady explores how to treat and prevent cavities. 

Although there are numerous ways to treat a tooth cavity, most Denver Highlands dentists believe the best defense is a good offense. Prevention is better than cure, and to do that, you will have to understand what causes cavities, and how you can avoid them.

What Causes Cavities?

Essentially, cavities are damaged areas in the teeth that develop into tiny holes. Over time, the cavity will bore through the hard, outer layers of the tooth into the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. But first, how does the tooth end up damaged in the first place?

The mouth is home to a variety of natural bacteria, and tend to thrive when you consume sweet and sugary beverages. If you don't practice good oral hygiene, bacteria will feed on the sugar and produce acids as a biological byproduct. This acid then combines with bacteria, saliva, and food particles to form a coating of plaque on the teeth.

This plaque promotes demineralization, which strips away protective calcium and phosphates from the enamel, forming tiny pores or holes in the tooth. Once the enamel is completely worn out, the cavity makes its way into the dentin until the pulp is finally affected. At this advanced stage, the very sensitive pulp becomes irritated, and any attempts to chew will be met with great discomfort. If you have a cavity that has developed to this stage, the professionals at OG Dental will take good care of you.

Note that you may also develop cavities if your tooth's root has been exposed due to receding gums or dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition where the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva (which neutralizes acid), resulting in a buildup. 

Now that you know what causes cavities let's discuss how you can prevent them.

Preventing Cavities

We know that the tooth decay that results in cavities is caused by bacteria feeding on sugar and starch. And since you cannot get rid of this bacteria, the only alternative is adjusting your diet. Ideally, our dentists at OG Dental Group would advise you to avoid refined sugars. 

However, if you absolutely can't avoid sugary beverages and treats, Dr. O'Grady recommends that you brush your teeth after you drink or eat. This will limit the amount of sugar available for the naturally occurring bacteria. Eat plenty of fresh fruits (moderately acidic fruits like oranges) and vegetables as well. Foods rich in calcium will help strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.

Ultimately, the best defense against cavities is a consistent and thorough oral health regimen. Dr. Cody Boals, a family dentist in Colorado Springs, says that plaque buildup will erode the tooth's outer layer. So, make sure you brush and floss after meals, even if you haven't had sugar. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, make sure to change it as often as possible and if you cannot brush your teeth, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

Treating Cavities

In many cases, deep cavities can develop without much pain, so it's important to visit your Denver Highlands dentist regularly. When they are diagnosed early, treatment is a lot easier. Early cavities like white spot lesions can be treated via remineralization, which replenishes the minerals that help protect the teeth. This could be through:

  • Using fluoride toothpaste and dentist-administered fluoride treatments.
  • Chewing sugarless gum which helps removes sugar, plaque, and carbohydrates from teeth while encouraging saliva production.
  • Eating calcium and vitamin-rich (especially vitamin D) foods.

If the cavity is deep, your emergency dentist Denver Highlands will opt for more advanced treatment options. For example, fillings can be used if the cavity has progressed beyond the enamel. The dentist will remove the decayed material from the tooth and fill it. If the decay is more severe, the dentist will remove the decayed material and cover your tooth with an artificial crown. In the most severe cases, where the cavity has reached the nerves, a root canal is the best treatment.

Left unchecked, cavities can lead to lots of complications. While they are entirely treatable, our Denver Highlands dentist at OG Dental stress on working to prevent them. However, if you do develop cavities, you can count on us! Contact OG Dental today!