Have you had a cavity? According to data from the American Dental Association (ADA), if you’re like 91% of Americans over age 20, you have. And, if you’re like 27% of American adults, you have at least one untreated cavity in your mouth right now.
Cavities are common, so it may be easy to think they’re no big deal. But remember, another name for a cavity is tooth decay, and any time a part of your body is decaying, it’s not a good thing.
At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, treats cavities using advanced techniques to eliminate damaging decay and also to restore and protect teeth. But, that’s not all she does. She also educates patients to help them take steps to prevent getting cavities in the first place.
A cavity occurs when the hard surface of a tooth — called the enamel — gets damaged. Most of this damage happens from bacteria that naturally live in the mouth. These bacteria hide in plaque, the sticky film that forms on teeth after eating.
Plaque mostly forms when we eat foods high in starches and sugars. It turns out, bacteria love these foods as much as we do. When these tiny bacteria consume the starches and sugars we eat, they produce acids that eat away at our tooth enamel.
Over time — and especially if we don’t brush and floss properly — holes can form in the enamel, allowing bacteria to get inside the affected teeth. Once inside, bacteria can cause infections and deep decay.
While cavities are common, they can certainly be prevented. And, happily, keeping cavities at bay isn’t as hard as you might expect.
Since sugars feed decay-causing bacteria, it makes sense to cut back on foods and drinks that contain a lot of sugars, such as fruit drinks, energy drinks, sodas, and candy.
Cheese and other dairy products contain plenty of calcium and phosphates, which are important for keeping your teeth strong. Plus, when you eat cheese, you produce more saliva, and that can help keep both plaque and bacteria in check.
In addition to keeping your mouth moist, drinking water can help wash away food debris, including sugars that can spur plaque growth and feed harmful bacteria. Plus, drinking water can help fight “dry mouth,” which is a chronic condition that increases your risk of developing cavities and gum disease.
Everyone knows it’s important to brush and floss twice a day to remove food particles, sticky plaque, and decay-causing bacteria. But, how you brush and floss is also really important. The ADA offers illustrated tips on their website here.
A lot can happen in a few months. Going to twice-yearly dental checkups gives our team a chance to identify decay in its earliest stages. We can then prescribe treatment to help reverse the decay and restore your tooth.
Depending on your needs, we may recommend smoking cessation therapy or nutritional counseling to give your body the tools it needs to keep your teeth and your gums as healthy as possible, especially as you get older.
Fluoride plays an essential role in preventing cavities by helping the tooth enamel stay strong. We all know how important it is to pick a toothpaste that contains fluoride. But, you might also benefit from fluoride treatments at our office.
Our team brushes fluoride onto your tooth surfaces, giving your teeth an extra dose of decay-preventing fluoride. During your next office visit, ask if fluoride treatment is right for your oral health needs.
There’s an old saying: “Be true to your teeth, or they’ll be false to you.” It’s cute — but it’s also true. If you let tooth decay go untreated, you can wind up losing one or more teeth.
If you’re due for a checkup, or if you think you might have a cavity, call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.