A cavity can look like this

How to prevent cavities

You might think that with all of the education a consumer has about how to prevent cavities that there would be no work for a dentist to do…unfortunately WRONG! In reality, I find that the hectic schedules our patients have can actually put them at MORE risk for dental decay. Let me explain a little better… What are cavities anyway? A cavity, or dental decay, is a hole in a tooth created by specific bacteria in the presence of sugars left on the teeth. While some people have warning signs of sensitivity to sweets or cold, most times cavities are completely painless, even when quite advanced! Because they are caused by bacteria, when one cavity is present in the mouth and left untreated, the bacteria can “jump” from tooth to tooth, making holes in the teeth wherever it goes.

Why do some people get cavities while others don’t?

It’s true that even with the same diet and teeth- cleaning schedule, some people can get cavities more easily than others. In the past, people thought they had “soft teeth,” but teeth are just as hard from one mouth to another (with the exception of a very rare congenital dental disease called Amelogenesis Imperfecta). The difference lies in the amount of bacteria in your mouth, and THAT can differ greatly from one person to the next. Those hectic schedules I mentioned earlier? More of us are eating packaged processed foods which contain much more sugar than the home-made counterparts; this gives more “food” for the bacteria in our mouths to have energy to cause cavities!

So what can I do to prevent cavities?

Simple things like limiting sugary foods, brushing 2-3X per day for 2 whole minutes each time, and flossing once nightly can do the trick for most people. However, some of us (myself included!!) need to work a little bit harder to prevent decay. In these cases, cutting out all sticky and liquid-y sugary foods (think coffee/tea with sugar, pop, chewing gum and hard candies), not drinking juices including “natural” fruit juices (better to eat a whole piece of fruit than its juice) or fruit leather (which isn’t fruit anyway..) is key. Also, a home fluoride rinse used daily is a great way to strengthen teeth and protect them against a high level of bacteria; a brand I like is Oral-B Fluorinse, which can be purchased over-the-counter at area pharmacies.

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!