“Cavity” is another word for tooth decay. Cavities typically result from the build-up of plaque on the teeth and gums.
Plaque is a layer of bacteria that coats the teeth. In the period after a meal, this bacteria emits acids that deteriorate the enamel of the teeth, leading to the formation of cavities.
Given enough time to accumulate, plaque may also congeal into tartar, which means trouble for the gums. This begins with inflammation and bleeding but may end in gum disease.
In the latter case, the gums begin to retreat from the teeth, leading to the formation of pouches of pus and bacteria. The final result can be severe cavities, in which one or more teeth have to be removed. In this article, Hawaii Family Dental emphasizes that good dental hygiene is the key to minimizing plaque and preventing these outcomes.
The Three Lines of Defense Against Cavities
There are three primary lines of defense against cavities. The first is to maintain a healthy diet that limits sugary and starchy foods, both of which are a major cause of the plaque build-up that leads to cavities. While restricting the consumption of sweets, soda, and other high-sugar foods is essential to preventing cavities, it is important to note that consuming otherwise healthy foods such as breads and cereals may also lead to cavities for those not vigilant about the second line of defense: brushing and flossing.
Brushing the teeth twice daily minimizes plaque build-up. Tooth-brushing should include all surfaces of the teeth: inner, outer, and those used to chew. Fluoride toothpastes are recommended as they aid in the prevention of cavities. Of equal importance to brushing is daily flossing. Flossing is essential for preventing cavities because it cleans plaque and bits of food out of the areas between the teeth that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Flossing is also indispensable for the prevention of gum disease. While being gentle, one should always make sure when flossing to clean all the way up to the top of each tooth, where the tooth meets the gum line.
The third and final line of defense against cavities is regular dental cleanings; i.e., visiting the dentist. Professional dental cleanings not only maintain good dental hygiene and help to preserve the appearance of teeth, they also give the dentist a chance to spot early signs of cavities. By neglecting to visit the dentist, one becomes vulnerable to more serious dental conditions. Untreated cavities, for example, may end up creating root canal infections, permanent tooth decay, and eventually even tooth loss.
Those seeking further information related to cavities and their prevention should speak with their dentist.
About the Author
Hawaii Family Dental is the number one dental practice in Honolulu, HI. They provide a wide range of dental services. Visit HawaiiFamilyDental.com for more information.