Helping Your Family Prevent Dental Cavities
At Smile Design Dentistry, all of our dentists in our locations throughout Tampa Bay and Central Florida are on a mission to end cavities and gum disease. Most adults experience gingivitis (early stage gum disease), and if you do, you may develop a chronic inflammation that advances to periodontitis. Periodontitis damages the gum and bone tissue surrounding teeth, erodes tooth roots, and leads to tooth loss. Adults also suffer from dental cavities, even though not as frequently as in childhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth and 21% of children ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.
What You Are Up Against
Tiny bits of food, saliva, and oral bacteria form a sticky substance that clings to teeth. This substance is called “dental plaque.” Bacteria in this plaque produce an acid as they feed on the carbohydrates you eat. This acid demineralizes (erodes) your dental enamel. When the erosion creates a hole in the enamel, it is called a “dental cavity.” The process of dental demineralization is the dental disease called “caries.” By eliminating plaque, you reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that produce erosive acid and irritate gum tissue.
Because caries is an active disease that always becomes more severe if it is not treated, you want to do everything you can to prevent it, have regular dental checkups to find it early, and promptly schedule treatment if you have it. Your Smile Design Dentistry dentist will stop your cavity from growing by cleaning out the bacteria and damaged tooth surface inside, and then protecting the inside of the tooth with a tooth-colored composite filling. Treatment for severe caries may require a crown, root canal and crown, or even dental extraction.
You and Your Children Have a Fighting Chance to Prevent Cavities
- Eat a balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates, especially low in sugar.
- Schedule professional teeth cleanings at the regular intervals recommended by your Smile Design Dentistry dentist and registered dental hygienist. Fluoride varnish can be applied to your teeth by our hygienists after they clean your teeth.
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily, with the last brushing occurring before bedtime. Floss your teeth before this last brushing of the day. Brush after every meal and sugary snack as much as possible; otherwise drink lots of water.
- Use a fluoride mouth rinse. For the children in your household, make sure the rinse does not contain alcohol, and monitor the usage. Make sure they are swishing and spitting—not swallowing it. Make sure they swish with the rinse before bedtime. We are happy to recommend appropriate rinses.
- Some people have deep pits in the sides and tops of their molars. These pits make it more difficult to fully clean out food debris with a toothbrush. Children have more problems with this because they are not as dedicated to their brushing. Our two recommendations are (1) use an electronic toothbrush, which will clean teeth up to 30% more effectively, and (2) have us treat the at-risk, pitted surfaces of your child’s permanent teeth with sealants.
- Acidic beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, and sports drinks also erode minerals from dental enamel. Rinse with water or clean your teeth after these types of drinks. Chewing sugarless gum will increase saliva flow and also help clear away acidic fluids.
- If teeth have become sensitive, it may be due to low mineralization. We recommend fluoride varnish be applied to the teeth and that you use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Both will put extra minerals on the surfaces of the teeth and counter balance mineral loss due to dental plaque and acidic foods and beverages.
- If teeth are crowded tightly together, it is more difficult for you and your children to clean between teeth. Orthodontic treatment not only provides a more beautiful smile, it also aligns teeth for an optimal bite and spacing. Don’t be surprised if we recommend orthodontics for teens and adults for health reasons, not just cosmetic ones. Many of our dentists are certified providers of Invisalign® and other orthodontic technologies.
You have control over your and your children’s diet, daily oral hygiene habits, and dental appoint scheduling for cleanings, checkups, and recommended treatments. Minimize sugar! And, don’t delay dental appointments. Give us a call today!