December 27, 2018
You’ve probably known what a cavity is since you were a small child. You were told that if you ate a lot of sugar and didn’t brush your teeth, they were pretty much inevitable, and getting them fixed involved having your teeth drilled…or does it? In truth, there are plenty of things you probably don’t know about cavities, and today, a Boca Raton dentist is going to reveal 4 of the most interesting ones!
1. A cavity is actually a bacterial infection
Most of the time, a cavity is described as a hole that forms in your tooth, but what causes that hole? The answer: bacteria.
Your mouth is filled with millions of different kinds of bacteria. Some are good and help you break down food before you swallow, and others…well, they just want to snack on the leftover sugar on your teeth. When this happens, it forms an acidic byproduct called plaque, which is corrosive enough to break down your enamel and form a cavity. Thankfully, you can thoroughly remove this harmful plaque before it does any damage by brushing and flossing consistently.
2. Duration matters
When it comes to sugar and cavities, not only does the amount you consume matter, but also the length of time. If you snack on a sugary treat or sip a soda all day, for example, you’re constantly bombarding your teeth with sugar, as opposed to having it all at once, which gives your saliva a chance to naturally wash a lot of it away. If you’re going to enjoy something sweet, it’s better for your teeth to do it in one sitting rather than stretch it out.
3. Cavities can be treated without the drill!
Most people try to avoid getting cavities because they don’t want to experience the dental drill, but in many cases, the drill is completely unnecessary when it comes to repairing a cavity. If the damage only affects the enamel, the outer most layer of the tooth, just using a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash can actually help rebuild and strengthen it. This is why dentists recommend that patients come to see them at least every 6 months—this enables them to catch cavities early before they can spread deeper into the tooth.
4. Cavities are the most chronic childhood disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20% of children ages 5 to 11 have had at least one untreated decayed tooth. And by age 15, about 60% of all children will have experienced a cavity.
When you think about it, this is really no surprise. Young children love sugary treats, and for many years, they simply don’t have the dexterity to adequately brush their teeth.
How can this number be lowered? Simple: a child should have their teeth brushed and flossed at least twice a day (first by their parents, and then on their own around age 6) and visit their dentist twice a year. At these visits, they can learn about the connection between their diet and cavities, enabling them to make healthy choices that will safeguard their teeth.
While these cavity facts might be new to you, knowing how to prevent them probably isn’t. Practicing consistent oral hygiene and attending regular checkups and cleanings are key to keeping the decay away, ensuring that you won’t have to spend any extra time (or money) the next time you visit your dentist!
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell has been a dentist in Boca Raton since 1986. In addition to hands-on clinical services, he’s always happy to provide his patients with dental education so they can know about the best ways to take care of their teeth between appointments. To learn more about how you can keep you and everyone in your household cavity-free going into 2019, he can be contacted through his website.
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