Here at Longleaf Dental, we have special technology that enables us to find cavities far earlier than could be found with visual checks or even x-rays.
In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the causes of cavities, how to prevent them, explain our early detection method, and discuss treatment methods.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are tiny holes in a person’s tooth. As you’ve probably heard, plaque is constantly forming on and around your teeth. The sugar in your diet causes the bacteria in plaque to produce acid, which attacks tooth enamel (the hard, outer layer of your teeth).
Plaque is sticky, which means the acid remains in constant contact with your teeth, causing enamel to break down. As the enamel breaks down, a hole forms in your tooth, resulting in a small cavity.
But that is just the beginning. Once there is a hole in the enamel, the acid begins attacking the next layer of the tooth, called the dentin. From here, plaque continues eating away at your tooth until it reaches the inner tooth, called the pulp. Once the pulp is affected, you will begin to feel pain and sensitivity.
And this is why it is so important to detect cavities early. It’s much easier to repair enamel than it is to repair pulp.
The problem, however, is that early cavities can be difficult to detect because they often form in areas that are hard to reach or see. Because you can’t reach that area, the plaque and acid sticks around for significantly longer amounts of time, expediting tooth decay. In adults, this commonly occurs around old fillings that are breaking down, or in between teeth in the back of your mouth.
How to Prevent Cavities
Preventing problems is almost always easier than fixing them, and this includes caring for your teeth. With preventing cavities, the goal is to remove the plaque and acid that causes tooth decay.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day will prevent plaque from sticking around for too long. Rinsing your mouth with water after a meal, especially water with fluoride in it, can also help remove plaque and neutralize acid.
Since sugary foods and drinks cause the most tooth decay, avoiding them is also important for preventing cavities. Instead, eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products that can help prevent tooth decay.
If you decide to have some sweets, make sure you don’t snack on them all day. The longer the sugar is in your mouth, the more time it has to cause tooth decay.
Visiting the dentist is also important for preventing cavities. Your dentist can give your teeth a deep clean and ensure that no cavities have started to form in your teeth.
If you’re in Albany, Georgia, then you’re in luck because we use the latest technology for early detection and can recognize if a problem is forming.
Early detection has become more difficult in recent years. Widespread use of fluoride and improved oral hygiene has led to harder enamel that can sometimes conceal sub-surface decay. This occurs when plaque and acid penetrate the tooth through tiny, deep pits that dental instruments cannot reach. The decay then forms inside the hard enamel.
Routine oral cavity searches and x-rays can sometimes miss detecting these cavity types in the early stages. The conventional dental explorer simply cannot detect small cavities at the bottom of narrow pits and fissures.
At Longleaf Dental, we use a new diagnostic tool (called Diagnodent) that helps us discover cavities that were previously undetectable.
The Diagnodent uses a laser to detect structural changes in teeth. It measures the fluorescence of each layer of the tooth structure.
A clean, healthy tooth exhibits little or no fluorescence. Cavities, however, do exhibit fluorescence when the laser shines on them. This instrument catches over 90% of cavities, a greater percentage than x-rays or visual cavity checks.