Most of the time cavities are due to a combination of:
1. the presence of cavity causing bacteria
2. diet high in sugary foods
3. a lack of oral hygiene (brushing and flossing)
1) Limiting bacteria proliferation on the teeth
Each of us inherits the bacteria causing dental decay as an infant. While we may limit the amount of bacteria present by brushing and flossing our teeth, complete elimination of the bacteria is impossible. This means that the remaining portions of the cavity causing equation must be modified in order to reduce the risk of dental decay.
2) Diet Modification We recommend a diet low in sugar and regularly brushing. These two practices will greatly help prevent dental decay. By reducing the number of times your child snacks, you can also help to reduce the risk of cavities
Every time a child eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria metabolizes the sugars in the food. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. By reducing the number of times a child snacks you can reduce the number of exposures to this process and therefore reduce their risk for dental decay. Therefore, the fewer times during the day a child eats, the less often this reaction will occur.
3) Improving Oral Hygiene
Improving oral hygiene is critical to reducing the amount of time the cavity causing bacteria stay on your child’s teeth. A proper oral hygiene routine involves brushing twice daily (don’t forget to brush your tongue too!) and flossing once daily. Do not feel obligated to wait until bedtime to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Nighttime brushing and flossing must simply done after the last snack or meal has been eaten.
The consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference in determining one’s risk for dental decay. Thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. Thicker saliva allows food, sugars, and bacteria to remain on the teeth for a prolonged period.
Tips for cavity prevention:
• Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
• Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
• Watch what you drink (sodas, juices and sports drinks all contain sugar!)
• Avoid sticky foods.
• Make treats part of meals, not a snack.
• Choose nutritious snacks.
A child’s primary teeth are important as they not only hold space for the developing permanent teeth but also are important for chewing, biting, speech and appearance.
Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not have enough fluoride, your doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). Your child would take these pills or drops every night, starting when your child is about 6 months old. Only give the prescribed amount of fluoride to your child, because too much fluoride can cause spots to develop on your child’s permanent teeth.span>
5) Sealants Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.