Trying to fight cavities can feel frustrating sometimes. Why do you get them? Is it genetic or does something else contribute to them? Is there anything you can do to stop them? If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, it’s important to know what causes cavities. Read on to learn about cavities and how to prevent them.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are what happens when tooth decay progresses to the point where a small hole forms in the enamel or outer layer of the tooth, which can expose the inner layers to bacteria and infection. The hole often starts out so small that you may not even be able to see it, which is why it’s important for your dentist to regularly examine your teeth with special tools and a trained eye to catch cavities early before they grow and cause bigger problems.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay can be caused by many things, but essentially it comes down to bacteria in the mouth producing acid that damages or decays the enamel of a tooth. Your saliva is designed to naturally neutralize and wash away this bacteria and acid, but sugars from foods can feed the bacteria, throwing off the delicate balance so that it’s too overwhelming for your saliva to deal with it on its own. That’s why brushing and flossing are so important, to help wash your teeth clean before damage can set in.
Can Fluoride Help?
Fluoride has been recommended by dentists for decades because it’s been shown to help protect your teeth from cavities. In fact, studies have shown that in areas where water supplies have higher fluoride levels, children had far less occurrence of cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally found in many foods, but sometimes your teeth need a little extra, beyond what your diet provides, which is why it’s now added to many dental products like toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss and professional fluoride treatments. Talk with your dentist to find out if you’re getting the amount of fluoride that your teeth need.
What’s So Sweet About Xylitol?
Xylitol has become more popular in recent years because of its benefits for dental health. While sugar can help to feed the bacteria in your mouth so that they produce more acid, causing cavities, xylitol can essentially accomplish the opposite by working to neutralize the pH balance in your mouth over time, which can help to reduce the effects of bacteria and their ability to adhere to your teeth.
Ask Your Dentist
If you feel like you’re struggling with fighting cavities, it’s a good time to talk with your dentist about what causes cavities and how they can help you prevent them. Your dentist’s job is to help you keep your teeth healthy and strong. They are experts in knowing how to beat cavities. Cavities can be a thing of the past when you’re armed with the right tools and empowered with the knowledge and support you need to protect your teeth.
Call our Taos Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.