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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - City of Falls Church
510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

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Cavity Prevention Advice for Everyone

We’re all tempted at times to forego our nightly routine of brushing and flossing – and possibly using mouthwash – because we’re too tired or don’t have the time. Although this minor lapse may seem insignificant, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly when your lapse is just before bedtime. Leaving food particles and acid on your teeth overnight can start the decay process that will begin to erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities. Please continue reading to learn more about the process of tooth decay and how to prevent cavities from forming.

When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth combine with the food you chew, and acids begin to form. Although this is the first stage of your digestive process and therefore necessary, when the food particles and acids aren’t removed through brushing and flossing, they begin to erode your tooth enamel and will eventually result in cavities. If you notice a small hole in your tooth, it’s probably a cavity, and you should consult your dentist without delay. If you think you have good dental hygiene, but you still developed a cavity, then ask your dentist for their suggestions on improving your routine.

Early cavity treatment yields the best results, so don’t delay consulting your dental professional. If you do, then the cavity will expand. The decay can move to your dental pulp, and then you’ll probably need a root canal and a cap. Since you’ll need to see a dentist sooner or later if you have a cavity, early treatment is the best and least invasive route. It’s also the least painful and the least expensive.

What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Cavities?

Prevention is the best treatment for cavities, so assiduous attention to your good oral hygiene regimen is the best way to avoid the inconvenience of tooth decay. The American Dental Association has recommendations for good oral hygiene, and they are very similar to the following:

  1. Regular brushing: Brush and floss at least twice each day. In the morning, before eating or drinking, and at night before going to bed are the recommended times. Don’t eat or drink anything at night except plain water after you brush and floss.
  2. Use mouthwash daily: Use an antibacterial mouthwash at least once daily – preferably before bedtime – to remove any residual bacteria that brushing and flossing may have missed.
  3. Get regular dental checkups: An essential part of your good oral hygiene regimen should be regular dental checkups. Semi-annual checkups are best but have an annual checkup at a minimum. Your dentist may spot potential problems before they escalate, which can save you pain, money, and inconvenience.
  4. Use topical dental treatments: Your dentist can apply a topical treatment to the fronts and backs of your teeth, and this can help protect them from the acids in your mouth.
  5. Eat healthy, tooth-friendly foods: Some foods are good for your teeth, and eating these can help your teeth become healthier. Foods such as dairy cheese, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, sugar-free gum, black coffee and tea can help you have stronger and healthier teeth.
  6. Drink tap water: Most people now drink bottled water, but most brands don’t have the minerals needed for healthy teeth. Most municipalities fluoridate their water supply, so drinking a little tap water each day can add fluoride to your teeth.
  7. Get advice from your dentist: Your dentist has years of training and experience, so they can provide tips on improving your oral health, and they’ll be happy to do so.

Whatever you do, don’t skip your oral hygiene regimen. Since poor oral health has been linked to many serious diseases such as diabetes, dementia, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases, maintaining good oral health can improve your physical health also.

Can Cavities Be Treated Successfully?

If you develop a cavity despite your best efforts, your dentist can treat it so that the decay doesn’t spread to your other teeth. The most common cavity treatments are as follows:

  • Filling: If you have a small cavity, then your dentist can remove the decayed area, clean it, and then fill it. Several options are available for fillings, and the type you receive will partially depend on the location of the tooth and the size of the filling needed.
  • Crown: If you have a larger cavity, your dentist may remove the decayed part, clean it, and then cover the tooth with a cap, sometimes called a crown, so that the tooth is once again functional.
  • Root Canal: If your tooth decay has spread to the root of your tooth, you may need a root canal. If so, your dentist will remove the pulp and nerve, disinfect the area, and then seal it. The canal will be filled with gutta-percha, and your dentist will put a crown over the hull of the tooth.

In addition to these routine treatments, other techniques are being developed that will aid in the prevention of cavities and tooth decay. Some of the newer treatments include using a sealant or fluoride to protect adjacent teeth, and using fluorescent light to detect the presence of tooth decay.

Avoiding Cavities…

The absolute best method for avoiding cavities is an excellent program of oral hygiene that includes regular brushing and flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and having regular dental checkups. Ideally, you should brush and floss twice daily as well as after each meal and snack. Use an antibacterial mouthwash at least twice each day, and visit your dentist every six months, or annually if that’s not feasible.

Maintaining a healthy diet as well as avoiding excessive fast foods, candy and desserts, and high-carbohydrate foods will help you maintain the best teeth for life. With care and dedication, your natural teeth will last throughout your life, and you won’t need expensive and inconvenient dental prosthetics.

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510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

(703) 988-6938