For parents who are somewhat familiar with dental cavities, this is a term that simply describes a hole in the tooth. However, cavities do not happen overnight. In fact, having dental cavities is a process that starts with tooth decay that starts to happen while you were still a child. Your mouth is full of bacteria. Hundreds of different kinds of bacteria live inside your gums, tongue, teeth, and mouth.
Not all bacteria are harmful, but, those who do play a major role in the tooth decay process. Did you know that you can stop tooth decay from its tracks? You can even reverse the process so that you will not have cavities or at least minimize the signs of tooth decay. You need to fortify your tooth enamel with calcium and phosphate. These are two minerals found not just in your tooth enamel but, in your bones and dentin. If enamel is the star of this tooth show, dentin is the supporting actor. The latter is as important as your tooth enamel.
What’s Inside Your Mouth?
Throughout the entire day, there is a battle inside our mouth that goes on without you knowing it. Picture this, a tug of war takes place between two teams. Team 1 is composed of bacteria and sugars and on Team 2; saliva and fluoride. Team 1 causes dental plaque through acid buildup because anything that you eat and drink containing sugar or starch will produce sticky colorless bacteria.
Acids begin to eat at your tooth enamel. By the way, tooth enamel is the hard outer surface of your teeth. Team 2 has minerals found in your saliva like calcium and phosphate. This team has also fluoride from toothpaste, prophy paste, fluoride varnish, water, and other similar resources to back this team up. Team 2 does the repair by replacing minerals lost during the acid attack from Team 1.
Cavity Prevention for Toddlers
About 42 percent of 2 to 11 years old has cavities in their primary teeth. Nearly 28 percent of children who are 2 to 5 years old have at least one cavity. Tooth decay or dental caries are caused by lack of dental care and a poor job of brushing the child’s teeth. One of the most common causes of tooth decay in children is when you allow your baby to go to be with a bottle. When your child grows older, you allow your child to suck on candy or eat a lot of foods with sugar for a long period of time.
To prevent tooth decay in toddlers you should take your baby to the doctor before he becomes a year old preferably before his first birthday. Once your toddler reaches the age of two or knows how to spit fluoride toothpaste and not swallow it, this would be the right time to start brushing his teeth. Use a soft bristle brush at least twice a day. Do this when he starts to eat sweets.
In case, your child has developed tooth decay, he will require some dental work. The dentist can use fillings to repair smaller cavities or a full crown just in case the tooth has suffered intense damage. By doing this minor repairs on your child’s teeth this will prevent bacteria from spreading out. A tooth that is beyond repair must be removed. Tooth extraction will allow secondary or adult teeth to develop normally. Any stains or pitting defects on the adult teeth is caused by what happens to the primary teeth.
Cavity Prevention Tips for Kids
- Visit a dentist regularly for cleaning and examination. During these scheduled visits to the dentist they will do the following:
- Check areas of your child’s teeth that show early signs of tooth decay
- Remove dental plaque
- The dentist will show you how to thoroughly clean your child’s teeth
- Use fluoride varnish or gel as needed
- Schedule the next regular visit to the dentist
- Limit your child’s intake of in between meals snacks.
- By spacing out the time that you feed your child this will give your teeth the chance to repair.
- Save candies, cookies, sugary drinks and soda for special occasions only
- Restrict drinking fruit juice
- Avoid eating or drinking sugar after bedtime tooth brushing. This is because saliva flow starts to go down during sleep. You need enough saliva to allow your teeth to repair during acid attacks
Tooth Decay Prevention Adults
- Brush your teeth twice a day or every after a meal
Don’t forget to brush your teeth especially before you go to bed
- Use dental floss or interdental cleaners
The use of dental floss will actually remove the sticky bacteria or dental plaque. Flossing covers about 40 percent of the work required to prevent tooth decay and dental cavities. Dental floss can reach out between the surfaces that toothbrush cannot reach.
- Rinse using mouthwash
- Freshens your breath. You can say goodbye to bad breath when you use an oral rinse
- Mouthwash has antiseptic ingredients to kill bacteria that specifically causes dental plaque
- Removes loose particles that are left in your mouth after you brush and use dental floss
- Stops cavities from forming
- Ask your dentist about using supplemental fluoride that can strengthen your teeth
- Inquire about the use of dental sealants or fluoride varnish that coats the visible surfaces of your teeth
Reverse Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
There are ways to reverse the process of tooth decay and gum disease. There are several factors that contribute to tooth decay. What you need to do is to strengthen your teeth and gums by doing the following:
- Ensure that you got sufficient minerals like this on your diet
- Take enough amounts of fat-soluble vitamins such as
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Eat less of phytic acid rich foods
Although phytic acid or also known as phytate comes from plant seeds blocks minerals absorption. Furthermore, phytic acid prevents the absorption of other nutrients that your body needs such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Think of this acid as anti-nutrients.
To give you an idea of what are phytic acid foods these are composed of:
- Edible seeds
- Roots and Tubers, in small amounts
However, you should not completely phase out eating foods that contain phytic acid since there are many of these foods that are both healthy and nutritious. What you need to do is to take note of these methods of preparation to reduce the phytic acid. You can actually combine the process when you want to eat some foods rich in this acid.
This method is similar to what you do when you make sourdough
- Soak it
You can soak cereals and legumes overnight since this will reduce the phytic acid content
- Sprouting or Germination
You can sprout seeds, grains, and legumes before you eat these foods
- Soak and sprout
You can reduce the phytic acid content of quinoa seeds
- Sprouting and fermentation
Do this on white sorghum and maize to degrade its acid content
- Avoid consuming too much of foods with processed sugar
Totally removing sugar from your diet would be impossible to be realistic the best approach would be to reduce sugar intake. Sugar feeds oral bacteria. This bacteria will encourage high acidic formation inside your mouth causing demineralization along the tooth structure producing the unwanted dental decay.
You need to stay away from candy, soda and baked goods rich with sugar. Replace sugar with raw honey and stevia and eat this in moderation. These are better sugar replacement than using artificial sweeteners that can place your health at risk. Limit drinking juice since too much sugar content from juice can contribute to cavity formation.
The Bottom Line
Cavities can cause permanent damage not just on the surface of your teeth. Tiny holes or openings will form affecting your teeth. However, the damage does not stop there. What you do in your mouth like eating too many sweets and frequent snacking can cause cavities and tooth decay. These tooth and gum disease problems are among the world’s common health and specifically dental problems. Think of this, anybody who has teeth from children, teenagers’ even adults will get cavities. If left untreated, cavities, they can get bigger and affect the deeper layers of the teeth.
As tooth decay develops, the bacteria and acid will move into the inner tooth affecting the nerves and blood vessels. The tooth pulp will get irritated and start to swell up. Since there is no other space to accommodate the swelling inside your teeth, the nerve will compress causing pain and discomfort. The pain can even extend towards the roots of your teeth. Find a remedy before it’s too late. Once tooth decay starts to get through your tooth enamel, the damage is done. Bacteria that manage to infiltrate your tooth can get so far that brushing will not simply make it go away. As the dentist often says, “prevention is better than cure”. It is never too late to find ways to prevent cavities and start patients young.