“Virtually all American adults have tooth decay, and more than a quarter have cavities that have not been treated, a new government survey finds. Americans may be known around the world for having strong, white teeth, but the dentist sees something different inside a patient’s mouth, the study from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds. Approximately 91 percent of U.S. adults aged 20–64 had dental caries in permanent teeth in 2011–2012, the report, published by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, finds” (Today). This is a very sobering thought. This means that just about everyone struggles with this basic issue. Many people tend to think of cavities as something children and teenagers fight with but the truth is it is something that affects everyone. If you have teeth, you are at risk for developing cavities. Fortunately, help is just a call away and here at Kopp Dental we help our patients with cavity treatment and prevention. There are many ways to prevent cavities and while they are critical to good oral health, it is also important to know what causes cavities and how they impact our teeth and overall dental health.
What Are Dental Cavities?
The most common question we get from new patients has to do with what cavities are and how they affect teeth. Cavities are what we dental experts call varying stages of tooth decay. This decay is essentially a breakdown of the hard enamel coating on the exterior of natural teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens, and adults. Without good dental care and hygiene, a substance known as plaque buildup on the teeth and gum. Bacteria grow and attach to the plaque and secrete acid byproducts that erode the tooth enamel and cause cavities. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and the hole we commonly associate with a cavity is soon visible. Dental cavities are bad because infect can then get into the tooth and into the gum and jawbone. If cavities get bad enough they can cause pain and even lead to the loss of the entire tooth. This is why dental care is critical to protecting the health of your teeth and why knowing the ways to prevent cavities is so important!
Is Everyone at Risk For Getting Cavities?
Everyone who has teeth can get cavities but there are certain factors that affect certain groups and that make them more prone to certain types of cavities. Cavities are more common among children, but adults and even seniors can also be prone to issues with advanced tooth decay. Children tend to get cavities because of the foods they eat and the fact that their brushing and flossing habits are not properly instilled and developed yet. Adults under the age of 50 tend to have cavities as the results of poor oral hygiene as well as other lifestyle choices such as using tobacco products, drinking alcohol, or not keeping up their overall health. Those over the age of 50 tend to have issues with cavities as the result of wear and tear on their teeth that come with aging as well as side effects of medication and certain illnesses or diseases. The good news is, that no matter what stage of life you are in, we here at Kopp Dental can help you find ways to prevent cavities and can help you maintain a bright and healthy smile for years to come!
What Are the Common Causes of Cavities?
We have already touched a little on this. There are many factors that can contribute to cavity development or make you more prone to developing cavities at some point in your life. These include:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Failing to brush and floss as needed will undo any good work your dental team can do- day to day dental hygiene is essential to protecting your teeth!
- Plaque Formation: Plaque gives harmful bacteria a place to take root so the best way to prevent decay is to keep your teeth cleaned and free from plaque deposits.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva is important for your oral health because it helps wash particle off your teeth and fights bacteria development- dry mouth is bad for oral health and hygiene.
- Eating and Drinking: Be mindful of the sugar and acids you are exposing your teeth too with your food and drink choices and take steps to ensure they don’t linger on your teeth.
- Bacteria and Acid: It is an unnerving thought but millions of bacteria live in your mouth- some good some bad- but when the bad bacteria take over, tooth decay begins.
- Medical Problems: Health conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s and GERD can put you at risk for cavities as can many medications used to treat common illness and disease.
Are There Actually Ways to Prevent Cavities?
While cavities are in a way a simple fact of life, there is a lot that can be done to reduce your risk of cavities. Some of the ways to prevent the development of cavities or reduce their severity when they do happen include:
- Brushing and Flossing- This is something you cannot compromise on! You must brush and floss every single day if you want to protect your teeth. There are many different brushes to choose from. Whether you choose the soft or firm brushes or a manual or electric brush, many of the deciding factors come down to personal needs, preferences, and dentist recommendations. This is why it is important to work closely with your dental team and speak to them about any concerns you have. Likewise, you need to follow all orders and recommendations from your dentist to ensure you are using the right brush and are following the right guidelines and process for daily dental care. This is step one to discovering the best ways to prevent cavities.
- Good Eating Habits- Your teeth not only grind your food so you can eat, they can also be affected by those very same foods. The food you eat can either damage your teeth or your food choices can keep them healthy. Many people know that foods high in sugar and carbs can lead to cavities and a host of other dental problems. Far too few people though know that certain foods can help keep our teeth healthy and strong. Eating fresh raw vegetables keeps teeth strong and can help clean them and remove food particles. Fresh fruits and veggies will also help ensure vital nutrients and vitamins are part of your daily diet. A healthy diet will protect your overall health as well which is important because dental health and full body health are closely connected.
- Make Smart Lifestyle Choices- Another one of the ways to prevent cavities many people do not think about is being smart with your day to day hobbies, lifestyle choices and daily activities. Using tobacco products, for example, will greatly increase your chances of developing tooth decay, periodontal disease, or oral cancer. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol will also lower your ability to fight infection and can make your teeth and gums weak and more susceptible. You also need to be smart with your normal routine and keep yourself as safe as possible. Wear mouthguards when playing sports, don’t chew hard items like ice, and don’t do drugs or other risky activities that can put you at risk of injury.
- Keep Yourself Healthy – Finally, as we have already touched on, your dental health is closely connected to your overall health and wellbeing. When you are sick, your oral hygiene and care tend to suffer which increases your risk of dental issues. Likewise, when your oral health suffers, it can lead to problems such as infection in other areas of the body. Your body is designed to work in perfect balance and when that balance is thrown off, illness, pain, inflammation, and disease can occur. One of the ways to prevent cavities and dental issues is to keep yourself as healthy and fit. Watch what you eat, make sure you exercise, and follow all instructions given by your dental team and you will be able to keep your smile bright and healthy.
Getting Good Dental Care Today
Many people tend to think of cavities as something children and teenagers fight with but the truth is it is something that affects everyone. In fact, as many as 9 out of 10 Americans will have some sort of dental decay and related dental issues during their lifetime. At every stage of life, our teeth need to be taken care of. This is why working with a skilled and experienced dental team is key to keeping your teeth healthy and strong. If you are looking for a dentist in the Naperville area, give us a call here at Kopp Dental. We are here for you and can help you find the ways to prevent cavities that work for you and can help you take care of your teeth-no matter what stage of life you are in. Call for your consultation appointment today!