Everyone who has teeth is at risk for tooth decay. No one is immune to cavities, although some people are more prone to them than others. Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your smile. Understanding what causes this type of dental damage and the factors that increase your risk will help you prevent them.
Why do we get cavities?
Plaque is a clear layer that sticks to your teeth. It is composed of bacteria and food debris, which, if not removed by brushing, hardens causing gum irritation, inflammation and bleeding. If this plaque is not removed, the acids produced by the bacteria end up destroying the enamel and produce what we call caries. A small cavity may go unnoticed, but it will worsen over time. At first, you may also experience sensitivity or pain when you eat something cold or bite down hard. If we do not repair this caries, it will eventually destroy the dental tissue and may affect the nerve or even lead to total loss of the tooth.
Risk factors for dental caries
There are numerous factors that can increase the risk of developing dental caries.
- A diet with an excess of sweets. Snacks and sugary drinks help bacteria produce acids that attack enamel. On the other hand, leftover food and beverages that stick to teeth are also to blame for plaque formation.
- Poor oral hygiene. An effective brushing and flossing routine removes plaque before it causes cavities. Visiting the dentist regularly so you can have your mouth checked. Regular professional cleanings help remove anything that has been overlooked. It also provides an opportunity to treat problems early, before they become more difficult and costly to treat. It’s a matter of cause and effect: if oral hygiene is neglected, the likelihood of cavities increases.
- Tooth placement. Teeth that are more difficult to clean are more susceptible to decay. That means teeth that are misaligned or located in the back of the mouth are at greater risk. If you have any misaligned teeth, it’s a good idea to correct them for more than just aesthetics. There are many options available.
- Certain health conditions. People who struggle with dry mouth have less saliva to wash away bacteria and plaque from tooth surfaces. Heartburn and eating disorders often introduce stomach acids into the mouth. These acids damage the enamel, weakening it and making it vulnerable to decay. Medications and other diseases can also increase the risk.
- Fillings, crowns and other dental work restore the appearance and function of damaged teeth. Over time, they can weaken and wear away and create overflow areas creating places for plaque and bacteria to hide. Periodic checkups allow us to make sure they remain intact.
How to prevent cavities
Here’s what you can do to prevent cavities:
- Be aware of your diet.
- Limit carbohydrate-rich foods and sugary drinks.
- Be proactive in your oral hygiene.
- Brush 3 times a day, at least after meals and floss at least once a day, preferably at night.
- Keep up with dental checkups. It is important and ensures peace of mind.
- Notify your dentist of any health problems that may increase your risks.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or suggestions to help you protect your teeth.
At Clínica Miravéco we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about maintaining your oral health. To make an appointment, you can call us at 93 200 93 39.